Rationale: Once the diagnosis has been given to the patient, it is critical that the patient be given some amount of direction in maintaining their own recovery process. This is known as giving aftercare instructions. Throughout the exam process, the entire relationship with the patient is about what is wrong with them. Once the exam process is finished, it should be entirely about how to get them better. The physician generally lets the patient know the diagnosis, but it generally falls on the medical assistant to relay the aftercare to the patient personally. It pays to take your time while going through the aftercare, because this is critical information that must be followed to the letter. Let the patient know about the medications prescribed and their effects, let the patient know the timeline to recovery, explain the referral process if the patient is to be sent to another specialized facility, and always tell the patient what they should do if the symptoms worsen.
Rationale: Building a patient relationship based on trust is of the utmost importance at every stage of your interactions. If you are consistent with the patient, and act knowledgeable and professional, the patient will feel that they can take you and the physician at their word. The patient that follows the instructions and recommendations of the physician and healthcare workers is said to be in compliance. Some patients become incompliant when they hear a diagnosis they don’t agree with or don’t believe. However, if the patient truly felt comfortable with the medical practice they have visited, they would have no reason but to believe what they have been told, and follow all recommendations to the letter. So, at every stage of your patient interaction make sure to be consistent, kind, and trustworthy to pave the pathway to a patient’s total compliance.
Rationale: Informing the patient is important at any stage of interaction. For the well-being of the patient’s state of mind, it is debatably the most important at the point of diagnosis. After the patient has been asked an entire list of questions, the patient has been poked and prodded throughout an assessment process, the patient has been stuck with needles and had samples taken in certain exams that can be somewhat embarrassing for certain people, they deserve to know what is wrong with them. Make sure that once the patient history and patient assessment are complete, that the physician’s medical diagnosis is shared with the patient. This gives the patient the respect they deserve for being patient through an arduous process, and it goes great lengths to settle their mind when they know what they are up against.
Rationale: Not all examinations are without risk. Venipuncture is relatively risk free, it may need to be repeated if you miss a vein, but generally the worst that can happen is some bruising from hematoma. However, if a patient is going to be taken to surgery or another type of invasive examination, there is an extensive amount of paperwork that needs to be accounted for. Arguably, the most important form for the patient is the informed consent. This details the risks behind the exam, and the expected outcomes. Physicians typically inform the patient about complex procedures and surgeries. But, depending on the physician, the medical assistant may be responsible for informing the patient about the procedure and obtaining the proper consent. But, the informed consent may be revoked at any time by the patient after the document has been signed. This protects the patient so that they have an opportunity to rethink their choices at any time and make a selection that leaves them comfortable.
Rationale: When a patient visits an urgent care or a primary care physician, they can get a lot of one on one care. However, these visits cannot always give the answers and the results the patient requires. This is where the medical referral comes into play. The medical referral is used to set up appointments and procedures with outside specialized facilities to attempt and give the patient a more complete understanding as to what their medical diagnosis could be. The most common patient referrals are from sending the patient to an imaging facility. Standard diagnostic x-rays are available at many urgent cares and physician offices, but CT and MRI equipment and even ultrasound sonography are typically found only in hospitals and imaging centers. Referrals can also be given out for specific types of lab work and specialized physicians and examinations if required. For example, a child with breathing problems may be referred to a cardio pulmonologist to test for asthma.
Rationale: One of the most important parts of the medical assistant’s profession is their ability to communicate with the patient. Patient education is a critical ability in the MA’s repertoire. Patient education involves not only discussing the patient’s current condition, but being able to explain any procedures the patient will be involved in, the examinations that will take place, labs that will be drawn and their purpose, what vital signs may mean, and the steps the patient will need to follow to successfully complete their after care. Some patients can enter a healthcare facility with lab coat syndrome. This is a term used for people who become immediately nervous when visiting a doctor. By taking some time to talk to your patient, and go over each step of the patient’s visit with them patiently, this can get you respect and a lot of trust from what would have otherwise been a difficult patient.
Rationale: After everything the medical professionals do for the patient while they are in the facility, the resolution ultimately will take place once the patient has left. This is why it is critical to treat the patient as effectively as we can while we have them. This means our patient histories must be accurate, our patient assessment must be taken with the utmost care, the diagnosis served should be carefully weighed and considered, and the aftercare must be given thoughtfully. Because once the patient has left the facility, all of those elements come into play for either a recovery or an illness that stays and festers. This is known as a patient outcome. A positive resolution of the patient’s condition once the aftercare is complete is the goal of every encounter. Unfortunately, not all diagnoses are a straight-forward condition, and sometimes they are based on a little guess work. But, they are always based on very educated decisions in the best interest of the patient.
Rationale: The basis of healthcare is about helping people. But, the reality of the situation is that all healthcare facilities, for profit and non-profit, are major businesses. There is a potential to make a lot of money being involved with the medical field by being a practitioner, management, director of departments, or a licensed medical equipment vendor. However, what all of these have in common is the people. And when dealing with people, especially those who are sick, there is a substantial amount of risk involved. Entire portions of business models are dedicated to risk management, which is the protection of a place of business to the uncertainties and hazards of potential outcomes that could affect it. These models attempt to isolate the hazards and build systems in place to help navigate and avoid these problems before they become risks to the business. These risk management systems are continually reassessed and upgraded to stay current and accurate.
Rationale: The healthcare profession is built specifically to diagnose, treat, and provide instruction on how to avoid illness and malady in the future. However, as medical professionals, it isn’t always about needing to provide that healthcare. We can provide just as important a medical service by informing the patient about their rights, and informing them about specific tools at their disposal that can help them gain the instruction and counsel required to make their own decisions about their healthcare. This is known as self advocacy. By being forthright with your patients, it acts as a bond that will keep them coming back based on your relationship of trust. You can tell your patients about certain books that pertain to their diagnosis, or websites that hold important strategies to aftercare, or even recommend specialists in the field that is more in line with their current condition. The more accurate your recommendation, the higher the level of trust you will receive.
Rationale: Patient education serves a lot of functions. It can be used to instruct a patient in all aspects of their condition and the course their treatment will take. But, it can also inform a patient about when they are convincing themselves they are ill, when in fact they are not. Not every perceived illness is a disease. Sometimes people are involved with extenuating circumstances that leave them feeling downtrodden and lethargic. It is being able to differentiate the two that gives you the opportunity to educate in a different way. Making sure a patient understands the difference between needing medical exams, procedures, and medical facilities and when they don’t is called utilization. It simply means being able to utilize the medical community appropriately. This not only saves the patient time for a wasted visit, but it saves the facility time to help patients that are truly ill. Clear communication with appropriate tactics to help their feelings is the best course of action.