PREFACE: Numerous cases and examples presented on the Nakul Karkare website have proven that Nakul Karkare are professional, trustworthy, patient-centered clinics at the top of the class with high patient satisfaction rating; many news articles and videos have also shown that Dr. Karkare is a zealous, experienced, and highly-skilled orthopedic surgeon who goes above and beyond in joint replacement and limb reconstruction surgeries.

Thus I doubt any general methods of improving patient satisfaction will be interesting or helpful to Dr. Karkare as he is already popular among his patients. However, after in-depth thinking and research, I have found some interesting, unique, but efficient ways to improve patient satisfaction that Dr. Karkare may consider. Common ones like decreasing waiting time, delivering respect, or improving cleanness of the clinics are great but not mentioned in this essay.

Patient satisfaction is an important and commonly used indicator for measuring the quality in health care. Patient satisfaction affects clinical outcomes, patient retention, and medical malpractice claims. As an example, happy and satisfied patients are more likely to return to the same facility for further treatments or even recommend facility to other patients in need.

It affects the timely, efficient, and patient-centered delivery of quality health care. Patient satisfaction is thus a proxy but a very effective indicator to measure the success of doctors and hospitals. After some intense research and in-depth thinking, I came up with some interesting, unique, but efficient ways for orthopedic surgeons to increase patient satisfaction: personally designed pre-operation exercise plans, advanced pain management, special care on patients’ mental health, and more. I will elaborately explain each method in the following paragraphs.

The stronger muscles around the joints are, the better the operation outcomes will be. Orthopedic surgeons may work with physiotherapists or personal trainers to develop a personal exercise routine for patients a month before the operation. The plan should target to build the muscles around the joints, increase joint flexibility and exercise tolerance.

This will make the post-operation exercises easier; thus it will produce a quicker outcome. This plan will also increase patient’s confidence in the operation and the following healing program. Patient satisfaction will improve as they see a better outcome produced by the pre-operation exercises.

Better pain management is also important in improving patient satisfaction. Treating pain with medication can help patients feel more comfortable, which will help their bodies heal and recover from surgery faster. But overdosing pain medications might have many side-affects. So orthopedic surgeons should work with their anesthetic or pharmacy teams to provide patients a well-calculated and detailed plan for 6-12 weeks after the operation.

It is better to advise patients to take the minimum amount of pain medications and adjust it based on the effects. The plan should be adjustable according to patients’ feedback; for example, if a patient always wakes up in the middle of nights from the pain, the team should be able to adjust the intake plan to get ahead of the pain. Patients are more satisfied with a detailed pain medication plan and various pain reducing methods because they will be in less suffering.

One important method that many surgeons may not thought of is to concern about patients’ mental health. A hip and knee replacement surgery is a big deal, so patients may often feel upset, anxious, or even depressed about the operation. And it is important to keep the patients mentally health, because a positive attitude will lead in more active cooperation from the patients; thus a better treatment result.

Orthopedic surgeons may ask patients for any concerns, questions, or feelings about the operation, and provide answers to any questions the patients ask. One good way is to invite psychologists to train the nurses with skills and methods that lead patients out of stress and into positive thinking.

Nursing teams may also decorate the rooms with relaxing colors and artworks, organize heart-lightening shows, or invite former patients to talk with the ones waiting for the operation. This way, the patients will feel more relaxed, welcomed, and respected.

The three methods mentioned above all include a good communication between caregivers and patients, and between surgeons and care teams. As a conclusion, communication is the key to improve patient satisfaction. Patients are not experts, so they need to be explained for every step they take.

For example, a doctor walks into a patient’s room and explains something in the morning, and the patient ask the nurse in the noon to repeat what the doctor said, if the nurse doesn’t know, it would show the lack of communication between surgeons and care teams. Another example is that when the patient is given a pre-operation exercise routine and was not explained well enough, it might result in injuries or other negative outcomes.

All in all, there are many ways to for orthopedic surgeons to improve patient satisfaction. However, I think it is the most important and efficient to provide patients a personally designed pre-operation exercise plan, an advanced and detailed pain medication plan, and extra care for patient’s mental health. Caregivers should maintain a good communication with patients, and care teams should have a good communication with each other as well.

Thank you so much for taking the time reading this!

2016 Scholarship Finalist

Tianhua Z

Holiday, Florida

The final question on the application was an essay question.

The essay question was:

How can orthopedic surgeons doing hip and knee replacement surgery improve patient satisfaction?

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