In the last few days, I’ve had two great experiences with my own healthcare that I just had to pass along. One was with my own medical care, the other with my mother. Mine was routine, but my mother’s was emergent. The common denominators were that in both situations the caregivers demonstrated behaviors that helped to increase trust and confidence. As I reflected on both of the situations, I started with the end. I walked away from both feeling confident, reassured, and informed. Healthcare is the business of trust. Everything that patients experience should build trust in the providers and the organization. Here is how I would dissect the experiences into trust-building behaviors:
- I felt heard. Both my doctor and the emergency room staff caring for my mother listened attentively and without interruption. Generous listening is a gift to the patient and family. The nurses on mom’s inpatient unit were equally adept at listening, both in person and on the phone when I called to request a consult.
- I felt reassured. In both settings, the providers and staff did two things that fostered reassurance. They offered information that helped me feel that they were on top of things and had a genuine interest in keeping me informed. And in both situations, they completed clinical/technical tasks efficiently and with an air of confidence that reassured me they knew what they were doing. This may sound basic, but I could write a book on the things I have seen and heard that have bred doubts and insecurities in the past.
- I felt involved. In both situations, the caregivers involved me in decisions. Things were not done to me or my mother but with our involvement. This demonstrates sensitivity and respect.
I’ll admit that I approach healthcare experiences with a critical eye, but I never hesitate to give kudos when the job is well done. The patient experience is all about how the patient feels during and after the encounter. Did it instill trust and confidence? If so, they’ll tell the world. I just did.