Photographs Help Patients Recognize Their Doctors

Hospital patients often face a dizzying array of doctors who parade through their rooms, ranging from medical students, interns and residents to attending physicians on the hospital staff. It's tough to figure out who everyone is without a scorecard, much less form a personal bond based on brief encounters.

Yet a trusting, personal relationship between doctors and their patients strongly influences how satisfied people are with their care. And in today's competitive health-care climate, hospitals are eager to find ways of keeping patients happy.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., have come up with a surprisingly low-tech way of doing this: photographs.

Mayo researchers studied 224 patients, 107 of whom had snapshots of their doctors pasted to walls of their rooms; the remainder did not.

After their discharge, patients who had the photos in their rooms were far better at identifying their doctors.

And those who knew their physicians' names were much more satisfied with how their doctors responded to their needs than those who didn't.

The researchers concluded that patient satisfaction was directly related to the number of physician photographs that patients correctly identified. They didn't mention whether the same results could be achieved if the doctors' name tags were made bigger.

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