When would you say is the single best time to check a patient’s pulse during their hospital stay?

If you’re like me, you probably find this question a bit awkward, because there is no single best time for everyone or anyone… Generally, we check their heart rates upon arrival to any department and on regular intervals? Furthermore, some patients are wearing telemetry monitors for continuous feedback regarding, not only their pulses, but several other key and vital parameters we follow, given their importance.

So, why then, I ask, do we wait until the very end of a person’s hospital stay to receive vital feedback on what the patient felt about their experience? Why wait until they’ve gone home to ask how they perceived their care?

How healthcare consumers (patients) perceive their care has everything to do with the degree to which they are pleased with their experience. And imagine all of the factors, which influence the way people perceive information:

  • What they hear from us
  • How they view us
  • Their cognitive bandwidth
  • Their previous experiences
  • Their choices of news media
  • Their educational levels
  • Their relationship with authority

With so many variables contributing to how different people may perceive the same information, it’s no wonder why there can be so many misunderstandings and misinterpretations!!

As healthcare professionals, a part of our mission must be to meet people where they are - their levels of understanding. And to meet people where they are, we must be continuously keep our thumbs on the pulses of how they are interpreting the vast information we are bringing to them, that adjustments and titrations may be made. An ongoing approach to addressing concerns provoked by the following questions can develop deepening rapports and deliver data boluses in the forms of explanations, videos, diagrams, and various other types of media for different types of learners.

  • How is your stay going so far?
  • Do you feel you are getting answers to questions?
  • Do you feel your concerns are being heard?

And by the time, patients are discharged, we will have accompanied them and collaborated with them; they’ll have followed along as to the rationale behind why their diagnostic tests were ordered, as well as the implications of their results. And although, some of the information may not be to their liking, they’ll express satisfaction, given they have participated in the experience. In summary, let's keep our fingers on the pulse of our patients' perceptions, to know how are pateints are experiencing their visits with us, that we may make adjustments and address their needs in an ongoing fashion.