Dr. Michael Gleiber was one of 9 surgeons asked by Becker’s Spine Review for their ‘Ask Spine Surgeons’ series to discuss what they thought were the most important qualities that spine patients are looking for in their physicians.
Beyond surgical technique: How compassion can make or break a spine surgeon’s business
Written by Anuja Vaidya
Question: What qualities do you think patients are looking for in their physicians?
Michael A. Gleiber, MD: Trust is very important. It may sound cliché; but I believe having a patient’s trust is critically important and bleeds into every other aspect of their care. They need to know “you’ve got their back,” before and after surgical intervention. The healthcare business sector has become somewhat dehumanized and to a degree — automated. The onus is placed squarely on the physicians’ backs to change this atmosphere in the clinic. Educating patients about treatment options and spending necessary time to foster the doctor-patient relationship is vital. Empowering patients with the knowledge to make decisions and trust the treatment protocols can only be earned in this manner.
Another important factor is education and reputation. Generally, patients are interested in board certification, residency training, fellowship and medical school education. Since they cannot watch their surgeon in the operating room, having an excellent background is a validation to the qualities their physicians posses. Patients, rightfully so, are keenly interested in clinical and surgical outcomes. Friends, referring physicians, hospital staff, online reviews, etc., will certainly have an impact as well. Not being board-certified may signal a red flag for potential patients.
Finally, there is office staff and communication. This starts before the patient enters the office. Having a talented front staff team communicating with patients in a courteous and professional manner will foster trust in the doctor-patient relationship. Patients generally are already anxious when seeing a spine surgeon; having a staff that positively assists in mitigating this anxiety can go a long way. A staff that returns calls promptly and pro-actively contacts patients when studies are completed sets the tone for a competently run office.