When It Comes To Patient Engagement…It’s The Little Things That Count

August 5, 2012
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I did a dumb thing a couple of weeks ago.   I fell off a ladder on to a cement floor and broke some ribs.

I went to the local ER, was x-rayed, and went home.   There’s nothing they do for broken ribs these days it seems.   The treating Physician’s Assistant told me she had notified my primary care doctor of my fall and resulting injuries.   Mind you this is the same primary care physician who was aware of my 3 recent retinal detachments, major surgeries (Vitrectomies), and prolonged recovery from these events.

I did a dumb thing a couple of weeks ago.   I fell off a ladder on to a cement floor and broke some ribs.

I went to the local ER, was x-rayed, and went home.   There’s nothing they do for broken ribs these days it seems.   The treating Physician’s Assistant told me she had notified my primary care doctor of my fall and resulting injuries.   Mind you this is the same primary care physician who was aware of my 3 recent retinal detachments, major surgeries (Vitrectomies), and prolonged recovery from these events.

It’s been a month since I feel off the ladder….and in all that time I haven’t heard a peep from my personal physician.  That bothers me.

It’s not like I had a problem that needed follow-up…but it would have been nice – perhaps even prudent – for his Imageoffice to call and see how I was doing.   Why?  The fact that he didn’t call just reminds me that my physician really doesn’t think or care very much about me – as a patient or a person.   Either that or he has yet to read the ER report of my injury for 4 week ago.

In truth everyone I have spoken to about this has had a similar experience.  This is unfortunate for patients and the medical profession.   As patient’s we are continually reminded that physicians don’t have time for us or our problems.  We chide ourselves for not looking for a new doctor in the hope that things might be better.   For their part,  medical professionals meanwhile are clueless why their patients are not as engaged in their health or adherent as they should be.

Want to Engage Your Patients?  Act Like You Care

We all know primary care physicians are very busy and not properly reimbursed for all the work they do.  We also know you all had mothers that “taught you better.”  We all had those same mothers.  Mine used to tell us kids that you “catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.”

If you really want to blow the socks off even the most jaded of patients….call them up and ask them how they are doing.  Start with a phone call – it’s more personal than an e-mail.  Just tell the patient that you “know there not ever enough time during office visits to show you care…so when you had a free minute you wanted to remedy that.”

Start with your chronic and frail patients – one call is all you need.  Do this one simple  albeit time consumer thing and your outcomes ill improve, patient adherence will improve, patient satisfaction and loyalty will improve…and you will feel better about yourself.  Think of it as a long-term investment.

You need more proof?  Calculate the ROI of buying and installing an EMR system and hiring a care coordinator and then compare it to the cost of making a single phone call to your sickest patients.   When you compare the saving from the EMR and the cost of your time to make the phone calls….you will be amazed that you didn’t do it sooner!

This ain’t rocket science!  Go out now and make your Mamma proud!

That’s my opinion…what’s yours?