Chief Experience Officer
Saint Peter’s Healthcare System
254 Easton Ave,
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
Since 2001, Lisa Drumbore has worked at Saint Peter’s Healthcare System in New Brunswick, serving most recently as chief experience officer. For 16 years, she has shared her dynamic, high-performance leadership with staff, physicians and patients. She has a proven ability to build, grow and implement solution-oriented techniques that help to develop customer satisfaction, best practices, service excellence process improvement tools and leadership development. She is passionate about creating relationships and fostering excellent communication between healthcare professionals and patients in accordance with HCAHPS scores. During her tenure, Drumbore has helped to increase patient satisfaction 100 percent.
Overcoming “White Coat Syndrome”
Good Bedside Manner Matters
It’s more common than you might think. There are many people who suffer from a condition known as “White Coat Syndrome.” In fact, according to well-recognized medical sources, more than 20 percent of the population has admitted that the idea of going to the doctor’s office causes undue stress and anxiety – enough to negatively impact their blood pressure.
It’s important to understand that people who suffer from this condition are generally known to have normal range blood pressure levels outside of the doctor’s office. It’s only upon having an emotional response to thinking about seeing, or actually interacting with a physician, that some people experience the temporary hypertension.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH), however, maintains that “improving the relationship between a patient and their healthcare provider can decrease the patient’s anxiety,” thereby decreasing the patient’s likelihood of demonstrating White Coat Syndrome.
Any time a patient is able to see a doctor as a person, more than just someone with a clipboard and a white coat, it’s better for everyone involved. In the case of the doctor-patient relationship, it’s the patient who is at risk of feeling stressed out. They aren’t feeling well, or are in need of professional healthcare advice. However, in many cases, a patient doesn’t know the physician they are about to meet.
So, how do we start? It’s about information. The Internet is one go-to resource for all things “data.” But there has to be a way to take facts and figures about a physician and humanize them. After all, we are talking about people, not machines. In my opinion, it’s incumbent upon healthcare professionals to do their part to make connections, offer open communication channels and help to find commonalities with patients so they can forge comfortable relationships. The NIH maintains that any interaction in which the patient feels that the provider will have empathy for them and their situation fosters a critical trust.
Additionally, HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers & Systems) a national, standardized survey of hospital patients created to publicly report the patient’s perspective of hospital care, is now an important part of how healthcare systems rate themselves against the competition. You know the survey you receive in the mail after a visit to the hospital? That just might be HCAHPS. The survey asks a random sample of recently discharged patients about important aspects of their hospital experience. Hospitals want to get top marks in every category.
It’s all about effective communication and relationship building. Anyone who does not think bedside manner is important just isn’t seeing the whole picture. Believe me, I see it every day. A good doctor-patient relationship most certainly has positive effects on patient health outcomes.