Patient Inspirations Part 3: Let’s Redirect the Conversation and Engage the Patient!

Part 3: Let’s Redirect the Conversation and Engage the Patient!

So, lets review how our 160 patients ranked their inspirations to pursue and recover from a total knee or hip replacement:

  1. Psychological benefits (quality of life, inspire others, feeling “normal”) 30.65%

  2. Non-essential activities/hobbies/sports 21.51%

  3. Family: 20.97

  4. Walking: 15.59%

  5. Pain relief: 10.22%

  6. Essential activities or activities of daily living: 1.08%

When we evaluate a patient with arthritis in clinic, we tend to focus the conversation on the patient’s pain. As we watch the patient limp down the hall, our attention is immediately drawn to the presumed discomfort they must have with walking (and all activities for that matter). Unsurprisingly, the conversation often starts by recognizing this pain, but does not expand much further to other areas of concern. Why is this? Did you know that research has shown that physicians redirected the patient's opening statement after an average of just 23.1 seconds?1 It’s no wonder that other priorities (likely more important than pain) don’t ever get brought up in these pre-operative evaluations. 

So what happens down the line? Well, because so much focus is placed on pain, many of the traditional post-operative instructions and conversations are centered on pain relief. Now don’t get me wrong, pain is a large component of both pre-operative arthritis and the post-operative recovery. However, patients seem to have a good understanding of this, and have their minds elsewhere when recovering from this surgery. 

What would happen if we spent less time talking about pre-operative pain, post-operative pain, pain medicine, other methods of pain control, etc… and focused more on what was most important to patients during their recovery? This question is the driver behind our motivation to learn about what inspires our patients towards recovery. If we want to engage patients so badly, we should focus more time and attention to what is most important to them! 


How does this work? Well, in the pre-operative teaching sessions, we asked several of our team members to ask patients what their inspirations for surgery and recovery were. These were jotted down and revisted during post-operative visits. Conversations transitioned from pain-focused encounters, to providing other resources that would foster their inspiration and goals during recovery. Overwhelmingly, patients reported feeling more encouraged, motivated, and felt their pain was “not as bad” and “thought about pain less”. This may not directly affect the bottom line at this point in time; but with patient engagement, it takes baby steps in the right direction! 

Kevin Campbell