The Top 3 Skills That Doctors Use To Build Patient Relationships

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04/12/2018 in Blog

This March 30th marked the 85th observance of National Doctors’ Day which began in 1933 through the efforts of a doctor’s wife - Eudora Brown Almond. Now a national holiday, doctors continue to be honored by hospital leadership, practice staff, and patients. Traditional gifts include cards and carnations, but banquets, personalized mementos, and video compilations like this one by St. Elizabeth Healthcare, are common today.

Healthgrades followed hospital celebrations across the country and invited healthcare professionals to share stories of outstanding doctors in a national sweepstakes. On National Doctor's Day, eight winners were chosen at random and received a $250 gift card. The Hospital leaders and practice staff who shared stories about outstanding doctors recognized many of the same skills that patients cited in our Patient Sentiment Report.  The top three skills included an engaging personality, compassionate communication, and being generous with their time.

In those stories, we heard about doctors who communicate with compassion, like Dr. Michael F. Foley, “the most compassionate physician [practice administrator Karen Latham] has ever met.” Sharing of a particularly impactful story about how he once eased the fear of a patient, Karen said, “he just stood there an hugged this patient and rubbed his back telling him everything is ok, and by the time the patient left he and Dr. Foley were high fiving each other.”

Stories also included doctors’ success in building trusting relationships with their engaging personalities. Dr.Timothy Watson of Mission Pediatrics in Riverside CA was recognized by his office administrator, Kirsti Steiner. Kirsti shared how Dr. Watson “focuses on the experience - from our cabin themed offices with fake log-burning fireplaces to a magic show.” Dr. Watson also gives generous amounts of time “filming comedic videos to bring awareness to the importance of vaccines, office etiquette, patient wait times, etc. He even has a zombie-themed movie!”

By giving generously of their time, doctors are more successful at securing trust with patients. Dr. Gary Poteet “took days off without pay to drive several elderly patients 300 miles round trip to have eyesight-saving surgery because the patients did not have anyone that could help them - and he did not want them to lose their sight.” This story was submitted by Dr. Gary Poteet’s wife, Dr. Lorrie Poteet, who did not know that her husband had also shared a story about the “countless times she has given hours of therapy for free to those who can not afford the cost but are in dire need of help. And she has also purchased over 200 coats, boots, hats and gloves for the needy children in our community. She believes that every child should be able to be warm here in our snowy, mountainous Wyoming weather.”

Nasly Zelaya, Volunteer Manager at Glendale Memorial Hospital in California, acknowledged the generosity of their physicians’ time and recognized those who are “working such long hours and are dedicated to their patients,” by holding a National Doctors’ Day event. Jose M. Perez, M.D., Assistant Professor of Clinical Surgery at Keck School of Medicine of USC attended the Glendale event and shared, “I used to attend these celebrations with my father, who like me, was a general surgeon here. Glendale did a lot to recognize and appreciate the doctors this year, and the hospital leadership also attended which shows their commitment to a partnership. The relationship that we build with them is just as important as the relationships we build with our patients. My patients are an extended part of my family and no matter the sacrifices, no matter the challenges, I am always rewarded by ensuring the best care and outcomes for my patients.”

In honor of National Doctor’s Day, St. Petersburg General Hospital of Florida and the three sister hospitals that comprise HCA West Florida Pinellas County Hospitals, held a luncheon to recognize physicians in a fun, relaxing environment.  The entire senior leadership team was on hand to personally thank each physician and offer them a small gift as a token of gratitude. Janice Balzano, FACHE, Chief Executive Officer of St. Petersburg General Hospital, said she has learned in her 30+ years’ experience that “as a community hospital, we will only survive and thrive if we are supported by the communities we serve and the physicians that practice here.  Doctors Day is an opportunity to show appreciation to our physicians for their trust and support.”

These stories offer heartwarming depth to the sentiments shared in many of the 7 million reviews on Healthgrades - and demonstrate the skills doctors use to successfully nurture meaningful relationships with their patients. Based on the volume of stories we received, and what we’ve learned from many hospital leaders around the country this National Doctors’ Day, there is an abundance of caring physician leaders who exude the top skills that build meaningful and long-lasting relationships with their patients.

Read more stories of outstanding doctors shared by Healthgrades’ National Doctors’ Day Sweepstakes’ entrants; and additional stories from our eight randomly selected winners.