There once was a time when patients were willing to overlook poor bedside manner if a physician had a reputation for achieving stellar results. Today, the health care industry’s emphasis on the patient experience proves that clinical excellence and compassionate communication can – and should – co-exist.
“Communication is the number one factor influencing the patient experience,” said Anthony Orsini, DO, neonatologist with Pediatrix Medical Group of Central Florida, a MEDNAX affiliate, and founder of The Orsini Way, a program that teaches compassionate communication.
Dr. Orsini initially developed The Orsini Way to help clinicians deliver difficult news to patients and their families, but it evolved to become a comprehensive, multi-faceted program. Through a combination of in-person workshops, simulation and interactive digital learning, the program gives clinicians the skills they need to build lasting, genuine relationships and address the most basic to the most complex scenarios.
“During these challenging times, delivering compassionate health care to patients and their families is a moral imperative. Programs like The Orsini Way can reduce anxiety, facilitate recovery, enhance trust and contribute to reduced burnout on our front line medical care providers,” said Ingrid Vasiliu-Feltes, MD, MBA, Chief Quality and Innovation Officer at MEDNAX.
Communication with compassion
A commitment to the patient experience is foundational to the MEDNAX culture, so a partnership with The Orsini Way made sense. MEDNAX incorporated The Orsini Way into its robust suite of training and development programs and saw immediate results.
Jose Perez, MD, observed a significant improvement in how Pediatrix Medical Group of Central Florida’s physicians, nurses and other team members communicated with patients’ families at the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies. Dr. Perez previously served as the practice’s corporate medical director. A neonatal intensive care unit, where new parents are managing the stress of a premature or critically-ill baby, is an environment where compassionate communication is a necessity. Dr. Perez’s observations of improvement were backed by tangible results – Press Ganey patient satisfaction scores.
The Orsini Way’s proven communication techniques delve deep into a variety of concepts that can be applied in virtually every setting:
- Trust is foundational. Trust is an indicator of satisfaction and satisfaction influences loyalty. To keep patients coming back, establishing and maintaining trust is key. Every interaction a patient has influences his or her perception, so it’s important that all team members work together to instill trust.
- It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. It’s a common refrain – delivery matters. In health care, when the stakes are high, how a message is communicated makes a difference. Clinicians need to consider both their verbal and non-verbal communication; something as basic as sitting down when entering the room versus standing can leave a lasting impression.
- Compassion must be genuine. If communication sounds scripted, it won’t make the intended impact. It could have the opposite effect. “Healthcare professionals are experts in their fields, but sometimes forget how to speak the language of compassion,” said Dr. Orsini. Effective communication training can help.
- Relationship building can be learned. Formal communication training benefits all health care professionals, regardless of skill level or years’ experience. It doesn’t need to be time intensive; most effective communication techniques save time and can be incorporated in practical ways.
Battling clinician burnout
Communication enhances the patient experience and, ultimately, improves clinical outcomes, but health care providers benefit as well. The ability to build meaningful relationships impacts team morale and can help tackle the widespread problem of clinician burnout.
For more information:
About Anthony Orsini, DO
As a noted author of the book “It’s All in the Delivery” and frequent speaker, Dr. Orsini is an expert on compassionate communication in medicine. Board certified in pediatrics and neonatal-perinatal medicine, he practices neonatology as part of Pediatrix Medical Group of Central Florida at Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies. He is also the founder and president of The Orsini Way.
Dr. Orsini received his medical degree at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. He completed his pediatric residency and neonatal-perinatal fellowship program at Jefferson Medical College.