Article Date: 9/1/2007

A Prescription for Perfection
staffing solutions

A Prescription for Perfection

You're the most important member of your staff, so strive for perfection.

BY BOB LEVOY, O.D.

Seven behaviors define the "ideal" physician, according to a study published in the March, 2006 issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, a peer-reviewed medical journal sponsored by the Mayo Clinic.

The study was based on the transcripts of 192 patients from the Clinic's Minnesota and Arizona locations who detailed their best and worst experiences with a physician while at the clinic.

Since you're the staff member on whom patients place the most importance, it's essential you learn about these seven patient-prized practitioner behaviors and take the time to look within yourself to determine whether your interpersonal skills could use an overhaul.

Here, I discuss these seven behaviors.

It's how, not what you do

The traits of the ideal doctor relate to behavior not competence, the study revealed.

That finding "does not suggest that technical skills are less important than personal skills, but it does suggest that the former are more difficult for patients to judge," say the authors.

The seven traits and their individual definitions, based on patients' perspectives are1:

  • confidence. "The doctor's assured manner engenders trust. The doctor's confidence gives me confidence."
  • empathy. "The doctor tries to understand what I am feeling and experiencing, physically and emotionally and communicates that understanding to me."
  • humaneness. "The doctor is caring, compassionate and kind."
  • personalness. "The doctor is interested in me more than just as a patient, interacts with me and remembers me as an individual."
  • forthrightness. "The doctor tells me what I need to know in plain language and in a forthright manner."
  • respectfulness. "The doctor takes my input seriously and works with me."
  • thoroughness. "The doctor is conscientious and persistent."
  • Patients indicated that they could sense when the doctor didn't focus solely on them.

    Of these traits, the most mentioned was "thorough," the researchers noted, while "empathetic" appeared least frequently.

    Top transgressions

    "Most of the negative incidents [reported by patients] had to do with violations of these [one of the seven] behaviors, where a doctor is perceived as brooking no questions, being authoritarian or unreliable," says Neeli Bendapudi, Ph. D., associate professor of marketing at The Ohio State University and co-author of the study. "Patients indicated that they could sense when the doctor didn't focus solely on them. Among the worst experiences for the patients were when they noticed that the doctor rushed an examination or seemed preoccupied."2

    Now, that you know what these seven patient-prized practitioner behaviors are, it's time for you to look within yourself to determine whether you meet these seven criteria, as doing so could mean the difference between a prosperous or languishing practice. OM

    1. WebMD. Hitti M. Key Traits of the Ideal Doctor: A Good Attitude Goes A Long Way, Patients Tell Researchers. WebMD Medical News. http://www. webmd.com/content/article/119/113480.htm?printing=true. (Accessed August 6, 2007.)
    2. Bendapudi NM, Berry LL, Frey KA, et al. Patient's Perspectives on Ideal Physician Behaviors. Mayo Clin Proc 2006 March;(81):338-344

    BOB LEVOY'S NEWEST BOOK "222 SECRETS OF HIRING, MANAGING AND RETAINING GREAT EMPLOYEES IN HEALTHCARE PRACTICES" WAS PUBLISHED BY JONES & BARTLETT PUBLISHERS. YOU CAN REACH HIM BY E-MAIL AT B.LEVOY@ATT.NET.



    Optometric Management, Issue: September 2007