Andrew Duker, MD, and Lee Zimmer, MD, PhD, members of the University of Cincinnati Neuroscience Institute, were among 13 UC College of Medicine faculty members honored Wednesday night for ranking in the top 10 percent of providers in the Press Ganey national database for patient experience with clinic visits.
The Press Ganey scores are based on survey feedback from patients.
Dr. Duker, Assistant Professor of Neurology and Behavioral Neuroscience, is a fellowship-trained neurologist with the James J. and Joan A. Gardner Family Center for Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders. Dr. Zimmer, Associate Professor of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, is a fellowship-trained skull base and sinus surgeon with the Neurosensory Disorders Center and Brain Tumor Center.
Both UC Health physicians reveal a common touch in their ability to listen and relate to their patients. Both also grew up on the West Side of Cincinnati, Dr. Duker in Western Hills and Dr. Zimmer in Taylor’s Creek.
Explaining his role in the treatment of patients with incurable diseases, including Parkinson’s disease, Dr. Duker said in a brief video shown Wednesday, “We really work to improve quality of life and make a difference. Even if it’s a small difference, it makes a difference in their life.”
Dr. Zimmer noted that his experiences growing up in a working class family on the West Side – working multiple jobs, playing sports, and developing an expansive view of the city’s geography – has helped him get to know his patients.
“The experiences I’ve had with schooling and sports and jobs really give you an idea of what the kind of person you’re talking to,” he said following the ceremony. “Having that experience all over Cincinnati, East Side, West Side, North, South, growing up, you really get a sense of where people come from.
“I don’t use that advantage greedily,” Dr. Zimmer continued, “but I think people respect that when you ask, where are you from? They answer, and you can reply, oh I had a job there, or I had a friend who grew up in that area. Or, you ask them, what do you do? They worked for so-and-so, and I say I have a brother who has a friend who works there. Patients appreciate that.”
Dr. Zimmer said he advises medical residents to take time to listen to their patients. “It doesn’t have to be half an hour,” he said. “If you just sit down and let a patient talk for 5 minutes and shake your head, they appreciate that a lot. And then you just need to be honest with the patient. You never want to tell them, ‘This is what you need; you’re going to do great.’ You explain their disease process. A lot of people think that sinus surgery is going to cure them, but they have an underlying inflammatory disease state that may never go away. You explain this is going to be a lifelong battle, but this (surgery) will improve your quality of life.”
Dr. Duker attributed much of his success with patients to the Gardner Center team.
“The success of patient experience really depends on the quality of the team you surround yourself with,” he said. “You can’t give good patient experience without having an amazing team to back you up. The medical assistants, the nurses, the nurse navigators, nurse practitioners and all my colleagues in the division all helped to make this possible.”
The bonds within the Gardner Center have been forged not only at work but also through friendships away from the office. “We enjoy each other’s company,” Dr. Duker said. “We often get together outside of work. I’d say we have a give-and-take relationship. We understand that we’re all important pieces in the puzzle, and we take care of the patients and each other.”
Also honored Wednesday for outstanding patient experience scores were:
- Michael Canos, MD, Internal Medicine, Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism Division
- Stephen Dailey, MD, Orthopaedic Surgery
- Hugh Gloster, MD, Dermatology
- Michael Holliday, MD, Family and Community Medicine
- Adam Ingraffea, MD, Dermatology
- Bradley Mathis, MD, Internal Medicine, General Medicine Division
- Caroline Mueller, MD, Internal Medicine, General Medicine Division
- Sona Sharma, MD, Internal Medicine, Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism Division
- Barbara Vinegar, DPM, Surgery
- Abid Yaqub, MD, Internal Medicine, Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism Division
- Nadia Yaqub, MD, Internal Medicine, Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism Division
Myles Pensak, MD, CEO of UC Physicians and Senior Associate Dean for Clinical Programs at the College of Medicine, praised the honorees and noted that the physicians never discussed economics or pedigree in their short videos. “The discussion was about recognizing the humanity of the physicians,” Dr. Pensak said. “From my point of view, this is truly representative of the trust-forming culture at the College of Medicine, UC Health and UC Physicians. This group is setting the standard, the benchmark for all of us.”
— Cindy Starr