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Invest in an empathetic patient culture

Article-Invest in an empathetic patient culture

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A conducive hospital culture builds excellence and delivers on the premium patient care promise.

The term ‘patient-centred’ has been buzzing around healthcare circles for many years but delving deeper into how that is accomplished requires more than mapping out plans that aim to meet the promise of compassionate care. It also means taking consistent and actionable steps that cater to the patient reality of today and tomorrow.

Patients’ expectations today, especially within the context of serious and complex care, have never been higher and with that truth in mind, healthcare professionals must recognise this need and do everything in their power so that world-class premium care is delivered.

Being patient-centric is when care professionals possess the skills and capacity to holistically understand a patient’s physical case, emotional pain points and all other ailments. Being innovative in this fundamental regard starts with having a constant growth mindset. That begins with knowing everything there is to know about a patient’s case as they seek treatment from a premium care facility.

Adopting a proactive approach to delivering an exceptional patient experience 

Delivering an unmatched patient experience requires proactive and deliberate steps to build a trusted relationship with patients. While healthcare delivery must be task-oriented and transactional to drive results, it is essential that patients are placed at the centre of the care that is being delivered.

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Dr. Matthew T. Gettman, Urologic Surgeon and Chief Medical Officer (CMO) at Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City (SSMC)


According to performance coach and business advisor, Joe Calloway, Author of the bestselling book ‘Becoming a Category of One’, knowing everything there is to know about the person you are providing care to is essential to distinguish your offering and reaching a new benchmark in patient experience.

When doctors exercise good listening and communication skills during consultations, they can unlock important information about patients’ social and personal circumstances, which can be factored into the recommended treatment course. For instance, questions such as “what does the patient fear may be the problem?” or “what is the patient hoping to achieve from the consultation?” can help doctors achieve a holistic view of patients, their needs and problems. This is even more important in a complex care setting; studies indicate that effective communication can prevent over 70 per cent of medical errors in the Emergency Department.

A productive conversation with a patient can strengthen the doctor-patient relationship significantly by increasing trust and patient experience, according to a 2018 study in the Journal of Patient Experience. Interestingly, a deeper doctor-patient relationship can have an extraordinary ripple effect on patient outcomes. Recent studies show that it leads to finer care practice, stronger patient cooperation, self-management, treatment adherence and overall patient empowerment.

Becoming a change agent and instilling the ‘Category of One’ mindset

While applying a ‘Category of One’ mindset is a winning formula to deliver a premium patient experience, implementing it across a large healthcare organisation is less evident. Building a hospital culture that promotes holistic and trusted care requires an all-round shift to an integrated, team-based and patient-centred care model. It is also essential to garnering an educational culture where every single person involved in the patient journey is attuned to what the patient is experiencing at every step of their treatment plan.

Leveraging their patient experience offices, hospitals can play a leading role in creating functional trainings that teach staff how to be empathic and focused on personal touch. A hospital’s patient experience department can also create a caring environment that is focused on the holistic approach by introducing transformation projects.  


Dr. Matthew T. Gettman, M.D., F.A.C.S. is a Urologic Surgeon and the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) at Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City (SSMC).

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