Win Hearts and Minds
As with any relationship, a strong foundation of trust is very important for successful patient-physician interactions. Perceived trust is imperative for healthcare provider success in the short and long term. In the Emergency Department setting, the sick are vulnerable – emotionally and physically, but often times, also financially. Adding to that is the sometimes reluctant, discretionary power given to providers on behalf of the patient and system, resulting in a perceived “imbalance of knowledge and power” which can characterize healthcare relationships.5 Trust can counteract this, and it is something that healthcare providers often take for granted. Trust in a healer is sacred, and frequently the prerequisite for seeking care and the reason for returning to a particular provider, hospital, or health system. Healthcare leaders should promote and recognize this in their clinical practice, and remind staff why they chose to pursue a career into healthcare in the first place: to help and make a difference in the lives of others. By creating an environment that empowers employees to make a difference, healthcare leaders can influence trust and positive staff behaviors; ultimately winning the hearts and minds of care providers for long-term, engaged care interactions.
In summary, a holistic and integrated approach to optimizing and improving the patient experience in the ED is necessary to see results, as there is no one-size-fits-all solution. If everything in healthcare is connected, the ED is no exception. Healthcare leadership cannot get great patient experience without improved patient throughput. Similarly, hospitals cannot get great patient experience scores without a certain level of staff satisfaction. As healthcare providers begin to tackle this complex challenge of improving the patient experience, focusing on strategies that include structured, purposeful programs will be the key to long lasting, positive impacts in the ED and beyond.