Two little words with a big impact

2013-03-25

I am a regular follower of Twitter. It has led me to lots of great information about patient and family centered care. Many tech savvy providers are now using this social media platform to share their thoughts and experiences.

It was through Twitter that I first came across Dr. Jeff Benabio. The dermatologist, from San Diego, California, is a big proponent of using social networks to educate and empower patients. Dr. Benabio is a popular speaker and he also lectures through telemedicine.

The following is a short clip from his video series called 30 Second MD:

I got quite emotional after watching this video, mostly because in all my years of being seen by doctors, I can’t recall any of them ever thanking me for allowing them to take care of me and help me in my care journey.

Sure, I’ve received the occasional “thanks for coming in” or “take care now.” But I don’t remember a doctor who has ever said “thank you.”

Don’t get me wrong. Being thanked for coming in for an appointment is better than when doctors just walk out of the room without saying anything.

Dr. Benaboio’s video got me thinking about how different my care experiences could have been if I had not only been involved in conversations about my care, but also had a physician actually take the time to thank me for the privilege of providing my care.

I know that patients who have unusual health conditions are talked about by physicians.  But they’re rarely part of those discussions.  Just think of what amazing learning could take place if, when a doctor talked to other providers about a patient’s case, that patient was right there and part of the conversation.

I shared this video with medical students in my Patient and Family Care Experience Program. It was at the end of the program, and we were saying our farewells. The video made quite an impression on the students I had been paired with. They told me that because of their experience in the program — which connects first year medical students with a patient or family member of a patient who frequents the medical system — and the message in Dr. Benabio’s “thank you” video, they want to incorporate this philosophy of gratitude into their future practices.

This encourages me. As many of you know, I have not had the easiest time in my health care journey.  It is great to see all of the improvements in the Saskatoon Heath Region, and a commitment across the province to Patient and Family Centered Care, and to involve patients and families in all improvement events.

My challenge now is to try to make sure all of our future doctors realize that bringing the patient into the conversation is the new expectation. How amazing would it be to have physicians — or any provider for that matter — say “thank you” for allowing them to care for us?

I know it would make me smile.

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3 Responses to “Two little words with a big impact”

  1. Heather Thiessen
    April 18, 2013 at 9:41 am #

    Thank you so much Bonnie for this. I think that is what is missing most in healthcare. Patients and families like honesty and sincerity and to have a healthcare provider actually say ” thank you ” and “I am sorry” speaks volumes. I think (and just my opinion here ) that there is a fear in being that open to patients and families, would open themselves up to something they are not comfortable with. Maybe losing some professionalism and I think just the opposite for it shows they are human.

  2. Bonnie Brossart
    Bonnie Brossart
    April 18, 2013 at 3:55 am #

    Hi Heather. I had the privilege of hearing Ruth Carnall former Chief Executive of NHS London who lead some very impressive improvement work on stroke care. When she spoke to CEOs yesterday, her last words to us were (and I am paraphrasing): Don’t ever underestimate the power of “thank you” and “I’m sorry”. She also encouraged leaders (and I would argue all of us) to not be afraid to use these words often.

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