THE IMPACT OF DOCTORS’ SOFT SKILLS ON PATIENTS’ SATISFACTIONS IN PRIVATE HOSPITALS
Good doctors’ soft skills are part of a strategy to ensure doctors provide high-quality care and enhance patient satisfaction in view of a clinical perspective. Among the soft skills required for doctors, effective and efficient communication remains the top priority for patient satisfaction. Limited information is available in Malaysia on the positive impact of patient satisfaction on doctors’ soft skills on health outcomes. This study was carried out to determine the current patients’ satisfaction with doctors’ soft skills and identify communication skills and age factors affecting the doctor–patient relationship in Malaysia.
This qualitative study was conducted in the specialist outpatient setting of two selected health centres in Bangi, Selangor, and Muar, Johore. For this qualitative study, purposive sampling was used to select the 20 participants with representatives from each generation group respectively who answered the open questionnaire via audio recording and filled up the google form. The result of the qualitative analysis shows that the doctor’s soft skill has an impact on patient satisfaction with 95% of respondents being satisfied. Findings from the data analysis demonstrated that effective communication mediates between the doctors’ soft skills and patients’ satisfaction where communication behaviour contributes to 80% of the total respondents. The finding from this study demonstrates that patients’ age is associated with the style of interaction which is, in turn, associated with patients’ satisfaction.
Qualitative findings highlighted the doctors’ soft skills factors such as the doctors’ communication behaviour, doctors’ body language and attitude, doctors’ professional care and approach, voice tone, level of trust, and doctors’ promote health education and problem-solving as important factors for patient satisfaction.
In this study, the majority of patients (95%) perceived doctors’ soft skills as good and 80% of the respondents agreed the doctors’ communication skills were important for patient satisfaction. We synthesized the communication skills required by the doctors such as provide further explanations, two ways communication with patients or participate them in the consultation, doctor’s voice tone, language and medical terminology used, using of information technology and tools, time management on consultation, how doctors entertain with patients who seek extra information through social media etc, and trust level in the consultation process. This study informed the importance of doctors’ soft skills and effective communication, which are needed among doctors, especially in the 21st century with the challenges of evolving information technology.
The strength of our study demonstrated the difference in communication preferences according to different generations (Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z). The similarity of the three generations (Generation X, Y and Z) indicate the need for interactive tools and devices for effective doctor communication instead of the conventional way of communication in the doctor-patient relationship. The need for understanding Millennials’ and generation Z’s ways of communication remains important for our future healthcare practice. However, this study didn’t include other factors such as educational background, gender and financial status for a better outcome and competitive results. The growth of Malaysia’s healthcare system may be impacted by this study due to its healthcare tourism.
Dr Zurimah bt Zamhuri
Najihah bt Mohamad Anuar