This is the ninth entry in my in-depth interview with a patient undergoing cancer treatment.
We talk about the little things that really matter when establishing rapport with patients. Elizabeth shares a few examples of some seemingly minor gestures that left a lasting, memorable impression.
Today was certainly better than yesterday. For one thing, I forced myself out of bed and joined in with the community here at Hope Lodge. I had an interesting discussion with one of the other people here who is undergoing a long chemo regimen as well. “George” was telling me about a radiologist who’d asked him at the beginning of therapy what he liked to do for fun. When George said he loved to ride his Harley, the radiologist started referring to him as “Harley Man.” He did this at every session—and even once when he ran into George on the street. George told me about this; he was all smiles. He told me how that one little thing made him feel like he and the radiologist had a special connection—that the radiologist understood him and saw him as a unique individual. Isn’t that something? Such a small gesture on the part of the radiologist had a much greater impact than he will ever know. It made me start to think about all of the little things that the doctors, nurses, and techs do that make us feel special—like we matter and that we aren’t just the next one being herded through in a long line of today’s to-do list. I’ve had so many of my own experiences like that. In fact, just last week, one of the lab techs heard that I had had a cortisone shot to help curb my knee pain. She remembered that this week and asked if I was getting around any better. She even let me try on one of her shoes because she says they have been so helpful to her in managing her knee pain. It’s hard being among strangers, day after day, so it’s the little things the staff does that make us feel like we really matter.
What are the little things that your patients will remember and take away from their encounters with you and your organization? If you want to know, start by recalling things that made a positive impression on you when you were a patient. Chances are, it wasn’t the fact that the staff gave you the correct medication in a timely manner. That’s expected. It was, more than likely, the small gestures of kindness, attention, and familiarity that left a lasting memory. Think back and share and discuss with your team. When they see the little things that left a strong impression, they’ll give greater value to how they interact with patients in the future.