Extending Bedside Manner to the Computer Screen

February 9, 2022

// By Althea Fung //

Althea FungThe hospitality industry strives to give customers great experiences that will win their loyalty. How can providers adopt some of the same principles and make telehealth visits more hospitable?

Going to the doctor can often be stressful for patients and their loved ones. That’s why having an attentive and caring provider is so important. In training, medical professionals learn that bedside manner — how doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff approach patients and their families — can directly affect the overall experience for patients. For example, according to a study published in JAMA Surgery, the bedside manner of doctors and nurse practitioners is correlated to the frequency of medical errors and malpractice in surgery.

Lu Zhang

Lu Zhang, associate professor of hospitality business, Michigan State University Broad College of Business

Amid the COVID-19 global pandemic, doctors have taken their practices online. A recent report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found a 63-fold increase in Medicare telehealth usage during the pandemic. While the setting has changed, research from Michigan State University and the University of Central Florida (UCF) found that maintaining a virtual bedside manner remains essential for patients.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for people all over the world,” says Lu Zhang, associate professor of hospitality business in the Michigan State University Broad College of Business. “Patients are more eager than usual to seek humane help and support provided by healthcare organizations.”

In the early months of the pandemic, Zhang and several of her colleagues conducted a survey to gauge consumer perceptions of the telehealth experience. “Traditionally, there isn’t much overlap between the hospitality industry and the healthcare industry,” Zhang says. But perhaps there should be.

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