Sara H. Kim, MD
Q: How do you create the ideal patient experience in your practice?
Every day, as a radiation oncologist, I witness the stress patients living with a cancer diagnosis go through.
Because radiation therapy is typically given daily for several weeks, there is a unique opportunity to create a pleasant experience for the patient as the relationship between the patient and physician/radiation oncology staff strengthens with each day. These interactions form the backbone of the patient's radiation oncology journey.
A patient's care experience is initiated from the first phone call to the front office to schedule a consultation. The first impression of the radiation oncology department is the voice of a friendly, receptive, and efficient front office staff. Although the clinical expertise of the physician, nurse, and radiation therapists is of utmost importance, the way the patient is made to feel by the personal interactions while in the department is also vitally important. The patient wants to feel that her physician and the radiation oncology staff care about her as a whole person, and so these personal interactions contribute to how the patient perceives her treatment.
Educating patients about what to expect, being available to answer questions, showing compassion by listening, and providing encouragement with a warm smile and friendly demeanor can all add to a positive patient care experience. Taking extra effort to provide personal care works. We've seen the results. On numerous occasions, at the end of their radiation treatments, patients will tell me that they will miss coming to their appointment because they will miss seeing the radiation oncology staff members every day. This is the highest compliment regarding patient care experience that our department can receive.
Sara H. Kim, MD, Department of Radiation Oncology at Glendale Adventist Medical Center, Glendale, Calif.