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Notes from the road: physicians are people too

Toya Gorley, Strategic Advisor, NRC Health

Sometimes a “thank you” goes a long way.

No one will debate the influence physicians have on the patient and family experience, and on the most critical drivers of Voice of the Customer survey ratings. Hospitals and health systems are actively trying to engage physicians in their patient experience improvement initiatives. Yet physician engagement is often seen as a challenge, and physicians themselves are looked upon as resistant. Common narratives include, “Physicians always debate the validity of Voice of the Customer data”; “Physicians see patient experience as fluff”; or “Physicians think this is all about compromising quality care to make patients happy.” Sound familiar?

I had an epiphany at the recent Beryl Patient Experience Conference. I was conversing with a group of colleagues about the struggle to get physicians to take the patient experience seriously. A physician was at our table, and a colleague asked him, “What’s your advice for how we can engage physicians?” He responded, “Physicians are people too. We want to be appreciated for the work we do. We want to feel like we are valued members of the organizations we serve.” My colleague continued: “How can we do that—how can we show you that you are valued?” His response: “Just say thank you sometimes.”

How incredibly eye-opening! We talk about showing appreciation, connecting to purpose, and offering reward and recognition as strategies to engage other healthcare employees; yet so many times, strategies for physician engagement center on data analysis, communication training, incentive plans, etc. It seems that we too often overlook a fundamental human need—to be respected and acknowledged for your contribution.

So, on behalf of NRC Health and the patients, families, executives, nurses, and staff you work so tirelessly to help, I would like to take this time to thank physicians everywhere for all that you do. We are all grateful for your expertise, your partnership, and your commitment to advancing the care experience for patients everywhere. Thank you!

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