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  • Jesse Arnoldson

How Disconnected from the Patient are You?


We run reports. We manage our people. We innovate the heck out of our clinics but how often are we in personal contact with the people we’re meant to serve? When was the last time you interacted face to face with a patient? And don’t you dare count patient complaints, those are not by choice!

A few months ago, while I was spending time in one of our client’s clinics, I was fortunate enough to have a conversation with a patient out in the lobby. She was in quite a bit of pain but was just simply a joy to be around. We spoke about a variety of topics; her family, the wonderful town she lives in, how much she loves our doctor and why she felt she was getting better under this provider’s care. As important as patient satisfaction surveys are, nothing beats a genuine conversation like that one.

In James Hunter’s book, The Servant, a conclusion is made that we treat normal organizations like the military in that the managers and administrators are as far away from the front lines as possible. Unwittingly, we treat the patient as the enemy combatant that shouldn’t be anywhere near the general. This disconnection may slip under our radar but it sure isn’t missed by our font-line colleagues. Medical assistants, providers and receptionists will quite often silently question your ideas because you lack that understanding of patient care.

What should we do then? Spend some time where your patients are. Obviously, I don’t mean the exam room but why not be out in the lobby where you have the chance to open the door for someone, hunt down crayons and paper for a patient’s child, offer someone a drink, etc. You might just find yourself in a conversation that’s ten times more educational than any report and who knows you actually might enjoy it!