The Ultimate Test of Patient Experience
The emergency department (ED). No one ever wants or plans to go to the ED.
Yet the West Suburban Medical Center ED is one of the busiest and most respected in the area.
“What’s unique to providing care in the ED is that we must rapidly develop a rapport with new patients within seconds to minutes,” says David Anthony, MD, MPH, Medical Director.”And often it is on one of the worst days of that patient’s life.”
Dr. Anthony is the son of an emergency physician, so he has witnessed this firsthand from a young age.” Our physicians, PAs and NPs have to earn the trust of their patients quickly, and conversely, our patients have to give their trust to a provider that they are usually meeting for the very first time,” he says. “That is a challenge that we uniquely face in the emergency department.”
To Dr. Anthony, positive patient experience all comes down to communication. “Communication is at the core of everything we do in the ED; not only communication between provider and patient, but between the entire team of clinical and non-clinical staff working in the ED,” he says. “It’s crucial that patients are not just listened to, but heard and understood.” He says he tries to take a little extra time to answer all questions and make sure that he is communicating in a way that a lay person can understand. “To make sure the patient knows that I’m hearing them, I make sure to communicate what they’re saying back to them, and when I’m finished, I ask if they have any other concerns that I haven’t addressed,” he says.
The West Sub ED attracts people from all walks of life. “We see everything from critically ill patients with heart attacks and strokes, all the way down to runny noses, bumps and bruises,” he says. “We don’t judge anyone as to why they are in our ED or the circumstances that led them there. Everyone deserves to have a provider that treats them with respect and dignity, regardless of whatever else is going on in their life.”
Dr. Anthony tailors his patient approach based on the individual. “Different approaches work for different people. Some patients respond better to a stern approach, and some need a more gentle approach,” says the Canadian born father of two. “However, everyone deserves to be approached from a place of respect and understanding.”
And that, says the man who works at one of the area’s busiest EDs, is the challenge, but also the reward, of caring for his patients.