Pave the way – a big benefit for teammates and patients

A medical assistant brings a patient into a room. Then, the physician enters. Perhaps a technician follows to perform a test. A nurse might be the last person the patient interacts with, explaining the treatment and followup plan. It can be difficult for patients to make so many adjustments and develop trust, over and over again, as they interact with so many different people.

No matter which role we play in patient care, we are a member of a team. What each of us does reflects on the other members of our team. Similarly, what we say about our team members does a lot to color the perception that our patients will have of them. For this reason, the Studer Group, a healthcare management consulting company, suggests that we utilize a skill they refer to as “managing up” and “managing down” to insure that our patients begin with the very best impression of each of our team members.

The medical assistant can share with the patient some of the positive comments about the physician that she has heard from other patients. The physician can explain the technical expertise of the technician and the importance of the test that will be performed. The technician can comment on how thorough and compassionate the nurse is. Each of these brief comments puts the patient at ease by introducing the next team member in a positive way and demonstrating the efficient collaboration of the many people who are participating in his care.

As we enter the new phase of ACO’s and Patient Centered Medical Homes, the team aspect of medical care will become even more widespread and important. However, regardless of whether we are in a large, multidisciplinary healthcare group or a solo medical office, the skill of managing up and down is an easy and effective way of positioning each team member in the very best light, reducing our patient’s anxiety, and improving morale in the group. A simple idea, easy to implement, and full of powerful benefits.

About Helane Fronek

Over the past 28 years I have had a fascinating and fulfilling career in medicine, initially practicing as a general internist and then as a procedural specialist, caring for patients with vein disorders. As Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at UC- San Diego School of Medicine, I’m thrilled to be teaching medical students crucial communication skills along with many other aspects involved in the practice of medicine.
This entry was posted in building relationship with patients, effective communication in healthcare, first impressions, physician communication, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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