In the healthcare domain, now might be the time to recheck if our doctors and medical practitioners abide by the rules and laws of patient care and treatment as far the age-old bedside encounter is considered. As more and more industry experts emphasize the importance of compassionate and empathetic care through bedside mannerisms, they are developing improved and innovative ways to train, and therefore, provider empathy is rising in popularity. Let’s know more about these in detail.

The importance of bedside manner  

Medical professionals consider bedside manner to be one of the most crucial parts of both patient treatment and patient recovery. It not only makes quite a difference in the way the patient feels in the hospital but also makes them realize how much they learn about taking care of themselves at home. 

Bedside encounter is an important element that encompasses every other aspect involved in doctor-patient interaction, along with that of his/ her family member. The system of bedside manner involves both – what is said and how it is to be expressed. 

At the David Geffen School of Medicine (UCLA), medical learners are taught to understand and comprehend the importance of bedside mannerism from their first year itself. Professors not only provide them with theoretical knowledge but also motivate the students during their real-time interaction with the patients. 

The difference it makes 

According to Chai-Chih Huang RN, MSN, NE-BC (director of pediatric nursing at the Mattel Children’s Hospital, UCLA), it is important for medical practitioners to put themselves in the parents’ and children’s shoes. She further adds that as they already come to the hospital during their most stressful times, it is very important for doctors and caregivers to connect with the patients and their families. 

Almost all patients expect good bedside encounter in the form of: 

  • Using understandable words instead of medical jargon
  • Making eye contact while talking
  • Getting an introduction every time doctors walk-in
  • Practicing an honest body language that doesn’t involve haste

Hence, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that doctors, nurses, and other medical staff who attend to the patients and make them feel comforted have long been a Holy Grail in medicine. 

It’s all in the data 

The concept of bedside encounter is not necessarily new to the healthcare domain. Compassionate and empathetic care has always been the backdrop of the industry. 

There is enough data to prove that empathy and compassionate care are two of the leading factors that most patients consider when evaluating their doctors and caregivers. A 2018 study by HealthTap showed that 5% of patients give more importance to compassion in healthcare when rating their doctors. Likewise, as many value quality care and provider expertise. 

Surprisingly, both compassion and empathetic care rule out provider costs. That means patients would opt for a clinician who was compassionate towards them over the one who had a lower price tag. 

Technological intervention 

Senior doctors who attended the Medicon International 2019 conference believe that regardless of technological advancements, healthcare organizations should motivate their doctors and other medical staff to keep up with the age-old system of bedside encounter, by promoting its importance. 

They also suggested that doctors need to ask the patients and give him/ her a minimum time through a casual conversation. It wouldn’t be fair to just rely on symptoms of the condition in order to arrive at the diagnosis. 

More than anything else, a patient, and not a computerized system, is the best teacher for any medical practitioner. A computer will not be able to provide as much and clear information as the patient does. Though doctors do require technological assistance to take care of their repetitive work, there is always a need for human touch for analytical works as well.

The final word 

The ultimate outcome of bedside encounter is to promote trust and healing. The way physicians, nurses, social workers, and even housekeeping staff approach the patients and their families can directly affect the overall patient experience and their eagerness to learn. When there is a good and positive bedside system, healthcare providers are able to improve on their communication and minimize errors.