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‘Hey, Coach, How’d I Do With That Patient?’

February 28, 2012
Written by: , Filed in: Diagnostic Imaging, Practice Management
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Radiologists get a lot more training in how to read images than in how to read people. That’s where a coach might come in handy.

Melissa Neisen, MD, thinks so. The Minneapolis-area radiologist enlisted the help of executive coach Susanne Egli a couple of years ago to improve her interactions with patients. According to the Star Tribune newspaper of Minneapolis, Dr. Neisen is very happy with the results:

I wanted to be able to project my message more effectively. I was a fast talker, and she told me to take my time and not rush. It was a game changer for me. I’m proud that I did it.

Egli, a trained actress and the daughter of a retired physician, works for Talon Performance Group. She said she helped about a dozen doctors last year hone not only their bedside manner but also their leadership skills. Training packages range in duration from three months to a year and cost up to $5,900.

With Dr. Neisen, Egli set up role-playing sessions and videotaped the doctor as she talked through hypothetical patient experiences, including some involving the delivery of bad news. They worked on voice tone and modulation.

“These are not skills that you would necessarily learn in medical school,” Egli said.

Measures of patient satisfaction are becoming increasingly important in health care. Sometimes, in fact, they’re tied directly to compensation. Radiologists are being encouraged to get out from behind the monitor and interact more with patients as well as colleagues. So a little training might make sense. Egli describes what she offers this way:

Doctors are in practice to serve. They want to help a patient solve a problem. Trust and credibility are very important to them. I encourage them to touch the patient and pick up on the patient’s personality. The patient will leave feeling they’ve been heard, that they’ve been taken care of.

In her father’s day, Egli said, doctors had more time to spend with patients. Despite increasingly packed schedules, today’s patients still want to feel that their doctor is paying attention to them. So people skills assume greater importance.

“This is not charm school and this is not a ‘you’re in trouble’ school,” Egli said. “These are people that are already good. They want to pick up their learning and get better.”

Related seminar: National Diagnostic Imaging Symposiumâ„¢

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