AAOS Bulletin - October, 2005

Annual Meeting diversity programs have much to offer

Improve your patient outcomes and your bottom line with patient communication programs

By Kathleen Misovic

Are you looking to improve patient outcomes in your practice as well as strengthen your practice’s bottom line? If so, you don’t want to miss the communication and cultural competency programs offered by the AAOS Diversity Committee at the 2006 Annual Meeting in Chicago.

“Communication competency is a patient care issue because doctors who successfully communicate with their patients experience better patient outcomes,” said Valerae O. Lewis, MD, a member of the AAOS Diversity Committee. “Communication also has a direct correlation with medical liability. Doctors who get sued tend to be those who don’t communicate well with their patients.”

Enhance communication skills

Dr. Lewis will moderate the committee’s educational symposium at the Annual Meeting, “What you need to know to effectively communicate with your culturally diverse patients.” The symposium will be held Wednesday, March 22 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

If you don’t believe patient diversity affects your practice, think again. Patient populations are changing across the nation; the U.S. foreign-born population numbered 34.2 million in 2004. Cultural differences between patients and their physicians can frequently present a communication barrier. But improved communication skills have been found to improve patient trust, compliance and outcomes, as well as increase physician satisfaction.

“To sum it up, culturally competent communication improves patient care and thus patient outcomes. Therefore, it also improves a doctor’s financial outcomes,” Dr. Lewis said.

Besides moderating, Dr. Lewis will also be a guest speaker at the symposium, addressing cultural competency and the African-American patient. Other guest speakers will include John R. Tongue, MD, who will discuss barriers to effective communication and give tips on how orthopaedists can improve their communication skills with all their patients, and Steven L. Frick, MD, who will discuss the importance of teaching medical residents communication and cultural sensitivity skills. Ramon L. Jimenez, MD, will discuss ways to enhance communication with Latino and Hispanic patients; Nader Fahimi, MD, will offer tips on communicating with patients of Middle Eastern ethnicity; and R. Daniel Riew, MD, will discuss improving communication with Asian patients.

The symposium will also present vignettes featuring patients of various cultures. After viewing the vignettes, participants will discuss the problems that cultural bias and mistaken beliefs can cause in a practice. They will also discuss methods to improve their patients’ perception of the patient-physician relationship.

Pick up your free Cultural Competency Challenge CD

As in previous years, the “headquarters” for diversity at the Annual Meeting will be a booth in Academy Row that will showcase the Academy’s various diversity initiatives—from educational programs and mentoring activities to recruitment. Booth visitors can take the Cultural Competency Challenge, an interactive educational CD that tests your understanding and response to patients with different cultural backgrounds. The CD, which features 18 patient cases and 80 multiple choice questions, will be distributed to visitors for free—thanks in part to a grant from Zimmer.

In addition, the booth serves as a place to discuss diversity issues with members of the Diversity Committee, the Ruth Jackson Orthopaedic Society (a society for women orthopaedists) and the J. Robert Gladden Orthopaedic Society (a multi-cultural society supporting orthopaedists and patients of all genders, races, religions and nationalities).

    Help create a child’s dream playground in Chicago

    Rome may not have been built in a day, but for the last five years during the Annual Meeting the AAOS has proven that a playground certainly can be! Hundreds of children and families in the Anacostia Neighborhood in Washington, DC, are happily reaping the benefits of the safe, accessible playground completed at the 2005 Annual Meeting. Thanks to strong AAOS member and industry participation, this community is enjoying a much-needed playground where children with and without disabilities can play together safely.

    The call is now out for volunteers to help create the 2006 Playground in Chicago. On Tuesday, March 21 (the day before Annual Meeting kicks off), you can help transform barren land into a child’s dream playground—all in a mere day’s time. Energized by great music and tasty food, participants will assemble the playground under the direction of special project managers—no experience is necessary. Buses will come and go from the convention center throughout the day, and food and beverages will be provided. The day will culminate with a special ribbon-cutting ceremony, attended by government officials, partners and the media. 

    Many AAOS members participate year after year. They enjoy seeing smiles on the children’s faces at the end of the day, and knowing that the playground will be a place where the children can make friends and create memories for a lifetime.


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