Cora was in her mid-60s when she landed herself in the local ER with shortness of breath and severe chest pain.

She had brushed off the early warning signs of indigestion and feelings of faintness that her body had tirelessly tried to whisper. Tests came back confirming, she had coronary artery disease (CAD).

Her arrival had not come too soon. Cora’s blockage was nearly complete; she needed a coronary artery bypass.

Admittedly, Cora did not receive routine healthcare or check-ups; it had been nearly a decade since she had seen a physician.

The surgeon, who was invested in Cora’s health and well-being, following her surgery, stressed the importance of establishing a relationship with a primary care provider with whom she may follow-up routinely, making a cognizant effort to be a part of that healthcare team, an advocate for and over her health.

“A recent study of a million patients helped to identify those patients who were at risk of leaving their providers, why they might have been unsatisfied, and also, what makes a patient want to continue with a provider or even tell her friend, ‘Hey, I really feel confident in Dr. So and So; give her a try,’” the surgeon offered, telling Cora to keep these five things in mind as she sets out to find and build a relationship with a new provider:

Confidence:

According to the study, confidence in a provider is the biggest indicator as to whether a patient will stay with a provider. A patient should ask questions, being an advocate for his or her health; ultimately, however, if there is a lack of confidence, the patient should move-on to another provider.

Coordination of Care:

This offers a glimpse of the provider’s entire team, from the front office person to how smoothly the referral process works. Don’t forget, the patient is part of this team.

Empathy:

Building a relationship with a provider means having one that shows concern for a patient’s questions and worries.

Listening:

A good provider will hear what the patient says and develop a shared vision; the provider and the patient will become a team. This relationship will improve patient outcomes.

Courtesy of care providers:

Look for a provider that offers satisfaction surveys and do them. These providers are listening; they are looking to build trust in a loyal patient base.

Fortunately for Cora, bypass surgery has become an everyday, routine surgery in the U.S., with few complications and a high survival rate. Cora was also fortunate to have gotten a surgeon who cared about, not only her immediate, but her overall and long-term health.

Cora’s surgery didn’t come without cause; with the scare of her life and the help of her surgeon, she better understands the importance of routine healthcare. Confidence, coordination of care, empathy, listening and the courtesy of a care provider are the five things that will help to ensure trust and a better patient experience, giving her ownership of her health, for years to come.

Gina Paradiso is a healthcare speaker and writer. She is passionate about service to others and quality patient care. Gina attended Regis University and Colorado State University-Pueblo. She can be reached at ginaparadiso@gmail.com.