Patients’ Expectations – What today’s patient is looking for?

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Be it in a hospital or any other healthcare set up, seeking medical help/treatment is always a painful experience, where patient and relatives are already suffering from the disease, financial burden, losing working hours etc. On top of that,  inconvenience during the treatment in hospitals, such as various touch points starting from  staff of the hospital, interdepartmental distance, hospital policies, waiting time, availability of doctor, unpredictable expenses, communication gap, unclear or  inadequate formation and more add on to the distress.

The chances of distress is even more for patients suffering from chronic diseases like cancer, stroke and heart diseases where chances of cure are less and most of the time, we do not know if the patient is going to be cured or not.

Healthcare has different types of set up starting from primary health care to tertiary healthcare and essential care to cosmetic surgery, but the common element is that patients are always looking for accessibility,  availability affordability, and comfort.

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Accessibility and availability : Most of the healthcare services are still scattered geographically and patient has to visit a healthcare set up located in urban area, travel a lot, wait for an appointment, run from one department to another, complete formalities, payments, wait for doctors and investigation reports etc. All these create a lot of stress and inconvenience for the patient. At times, even though service is available it is not accessible to the patient due to area or cost.

Affordability: Affordability is also an important factor, as we know in India, per capita income is very low and therefore, the spending capacity is low. 85% of Indian population do not have health insurance and most of the Indians have to spend a lot more for their medical expenses than their annual income.

Good communication and empathy: Proper communication at various level starting from booking an appointment to discharge is important. During the actual treatment or when patient is with doctor, patient wants doctor to spend enough time with them, explain the treatment and prognosis in the language which patient can understand. Psychological counselling, the facial expression of  treating doctor also matters a lot for the patients and relatives. Good bedside manner  and empathy from the doctor will always remain important to patients; empathy doesn’t just lead to happier patients, it can lead to healthier ones too. The patients always tend to judge the doctor on their experience of service.

Open and honest communication makes patients’ life much easier. In changing trend  of healthcare, providing comprehensive and understandable health information and advice is becoming rare. Clear, comprehensible information, and support for care, participation in decisions related to treatment and respect for preferences are very important

Dignity, respect and compassion: Indian healthcare system is provider dominated; respect, compassion, safe and effective treatment plays an important role.

Attention to physical and environmental needs: Here, healthcare provider needs to focus on psychological support, value added services and not only core medical treatment. Emotional support, empathy, and respect, smooth transitions add comfort to the patient and his relatives.

Participation in treatment decision: Healthcare is a knowledge biased industry, customer/patients has to trust providers’ decision and providers need to take account of peoples’ preferences and values too.

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Dr. Gitanjali Taware has over 8 years of experience in the healthcare sector. She has done her Masters in Health and Hospital Administration from TATA Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. She has worked across primary health center, secondary and tertiary hospitals, wellness clinics and home healthcare. Currently, Ms. Taware is working in Portea as Manager - Patient Re-Engagement.

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