Editor’s note: “Everything We Say and Do” is an informational series developed by SHM’s Patient Experience Committee to provide readers with thoughtful and actionable communication tactics that have great potential to positively impact patients’ experience of care. Each article will focus on how the contributor applies one or more of the “key communication” tactics in practice to maintain provider accountability for “everything we say and do that affects our patients’ thoughts, feelings, and well-being.”
View a chart outlining key communication tactics
What I Say and Do
At every opportunity, I position and endorse my colleagues who are or will be participating in my patient’s care by describing their roles and expressing my confidence in their abilities.
Why I Do It
It is vital that our patients feel assured they are being cared for by a high-functioning team of experts. During any given hospital stay, our patients will meet consulting physicians, nurses, therapists, case managers … The list goes on and on. Each person plays a vital part in patients’ care. But it can be difficult for patients to understand every person’s role and to feel assured that each person is highly skilled and aligned with the care plan.
As hospitalists, we are in a unique position to provide a foundation of assuredness and confidence that is a cornerstone of patient experience before our teammates meet patients. When we miss this opportunity, our patients perceive us as a sea of white coats passing in and out of their rooms rather than a cohesive team with their best interests at heart.
How I Do It
Let’s take the example of an elderly patient admitted for a hip fracture after a fall. Alongside the hospitalist will be the orthopedic surgeon, nurse, physical therapist, and case manager, all working toward an optimal outcome. In each case, the hospitalist can choose to provide no information about these team members or to position them for a positive first impression.
Here are the steps to take when positioning colleagues with patients:
- Identify team members and explain their roles.
- Endorse colleagues by expressing honest confidence in their expertise and ability.
- Describe how communication between you and your team members will work.
- Assure the patient that during handoff, your colleagues will be up-to-date and aligned with the plan.
- Tell your patients they are part of a team dedicated to a safe and effective hospitalization.
Mark Shapiro, MD, is medical director for hospital medicine at St. Joseph Health Medical Group in Santa Rosa, Calif., and producer and host of Explore the Space podcast (explorethespaceshow.com).