Fundamentals Of Patient Care

Posted 3/29/2012 by Nebraska Medicine

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In a world that can, at times, feel dominated by technology, a simple handshake, warm smile and a few kind words could have more of a lasting impact on a patient than any keystroke on a computer.

Lynell Klassen, MD, Department of Internal Medicine chair, gives a warm greeting to patient Dina Haberer. Haberer has been a patient of Klassen’s for more than a decade and has developed a strong rapport with him.
Lynell Klassen, MD, Department of Internal Medicine chair, gives a warm greeting to patient Dina Haberer. Haberer has been a patient of Klassen’s for more than a decade and has developed a strong rapport with him.
“The physician/patient relationship is at the very core of healthcare delivery,” said Lynell Klassen, MD, a rheumatologist. “The basic role of the physician is to enable the patient to make choices that are appropriate for that patient’s own well-being.”

Klassen stressed everything he and his peers do is for the patient.

“When we take our focus off this particular concept, we start going down a path that destroys productive patient/physician relationships,” he said.

Carl Smith, MD, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist, added that building a strong rapport and connection with the patient is important in establishing a therapeutic relationship. 

“Understanding the patient’s needs and background increases patient compliance and allows the physician to develop treatment recommendations that are appropriate for the patient,” Smith said. “It increases the likelihood that trust will be developed and we will gather correct information from the patient.”

Jennifer Friesen, a patient of Smith's, agrees.“When you come into a doctor's office and you see all the equipment, it can be a little bit intimidating,” the first-time expectant mother said. “It's always nice to have that person there to explain the procedure and what each machine does and what it tells you. It helps put you at ease.”

Dina Haberer, a patient of Klassen's, said developing physician rapport provides additional comfort.

“One of the most important things, as a patient, is that you have to personally like your doctor,” Haberer said. “When that happens, it leads you to be more honest and open.”

Smith realizes there might be concern about disconnect with the implementation of technology such as One Chart, the new electronic health record system at UNMC Physicians. However, he said the key is to not let technology become a barrier but rather an asset.

“Some contemporaneous data entry will have to happen with One Chart, but the providers should take a break from this at regular intervals to maintain a connection with the patient,” Smith said. “Educating the patient about how we use the electronic health record system and the safety benefits from its use will also be important.”

While more technology is implemented into healthcare for efficiency and effectiveness, medical personnel recognize a fundamental of patient care is the face-to-face interaction.

“The most important thing to do in order to develop and maintain a real physician/patient relationship is to treat the patient as a real individual,” Klassen said. “This requires personal touch and eye-to-eye contact at each visit.”

Some of the things Klassen does to help his patients feel at ease are sitting down during an examination, looking the patient in the eye, using appropriate language levels and assuring the patient that he works for him or her.

As a patient, Friesen couldn’t agree more.

“Technology is great, but it’s definitely nice to have that personal touch as well,” she said.

Friesen is just one of many patients who can attest to the value of personal attention she receives during doctor visits.

“Just the other day one of my previous patients was admitted to the care of one of our other faculty. She asked if I was still working here and if I could come by and see her,” Smith said. “She was very complimentary of the care she received by the entire team. It was clear that I made an impact on the patient and that my relationship with her was more influential than the direct medical care I provided.”


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  • Triparna de Vreede said:
    10/17/2012 11:21 PM

    I could not agree more with this article. I wish I had Dr. Klassen as my doctor. Unfortunately, I had a very sour encounter with one of the internal Grace medicine doctors at this very hospital. I am sorry for the long details, but a bad experience at UNMC is so rare for me that I am still in shock and want to share my experience.

    I had to take an appointment with Dr. Davis as my regular doctor Dr. Armitage was not available ( I go to the west village pointe clinic). I was suffering from dizziness and nausea and went to see Dr. Davis. She was rude and cold. She refused to shake my hand when we met. Then she accused me of not spelling out my previous ailment and blamed me for making a mistake in writing down my history. Then she told me " you are a very anxious woman" when I informed her that with my history and a week of nausea I am indeed anxious, she told me " I am not criticizing you, I am making an observation". I wanted to tell her " well don't. Unnecessary observations like these which have no relevance to the treatment puts pressure on patients and kindness is what they need, not coldness. She did not even pay attention to my previous symptoms. When I asked why could be causing my pressure, she said " I don't know, I don't what causes head aches, no body does". Well, I did not ask about head aches now, did I? And I am sure there is a kinder way to answer.

    She ordered an expensive MRI when I was sure I am having a sinus infection. I went ahead and took some antibiotics myself (which I would rather not have done) and lo and behold! My infection was cured. It was nice that she was being cautious with mri, but she should have respected my account and prescribed some antibiotics as well. If she had paid some attention to my health rather than on the fact whether I was anxious or not, she would have proved to be a kinder and a more effective doctor! I am so sad that people like these choose such a noble profession.


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