“I’m just a medical assistant, so my job isn’t as important,” she said as she took my blood pressure and entered the data into my digital file.
“Seriously? How can you say that? You probably have more face-to-face moments with patients than the doctors do. You set the tone for the appointment. What you do matters.” I paused. “Take my blood pressure again,” I laughed. “It probably just went up.”
She smiled. “I guess it is important. But not as important as the doctor.”
Every patient interaction point matters. Never underestimate your influence on the patient experience. There is no "just a [insert job]."
— Kerri / Diabetes (@sixuntilme) July 22, 2016
It’s strange how people think their interactions don’t matter, don’t have an influence on the patient experience.
When the receptionist checks me in for my appointment, she contributes to the tone of my appointment. Even if she is asking me for my insurance information for the tenth time, or informing me of an outstanding balance on my account, or telling me that the doctor is running late today, the way she delivers that information colors the experience.
When the phlebotomist is steady-handed and double-checks the information on the blood vial label against my file, their attention to detail and dedication to comfort colors the experience.
When the medical assistant makes eye contact, engages the patient, and acknowledges that the data they are collecting is from a human being, not a lab rat, they color the experience.
When the clinician is on time and the appointment is not an exercise in redundancy and checked boxes on an electronic medical record but instead a discussion between a patient and a provider that influences positive health outcomes, that interaction colors the experience.
And when I’m on time, and I have the necessary and requested data from my diabetes devices, when I have my list of questions and concerns, when I pay my bill or file my claim, and when I’m respectful of everyone’s time and expertise, I color the experience.
There is no “just a …” when it comes to the healthcare experience. Even when it’s not medically coded as a “shared medical appointment,” the appointment is still shared between the patient and everyone their interact with. Everyone involved makes or breaks those moments for the patient and the healthcare team alike, with each person playing a crucial role in keeping the process effective, efficient, and evolving.