Physician Patient Relationship – How Physicians Can Improve Their Relationship With Their Patients?
The most challenging hurdle a physician can sometimes face is establishing a solid connection with their patient. Physician engagement remains a persistent struggle for healthcare providers. Forming a solid doctor-patient relationship is all about connecting well with your patients so you can understand their overall healthcare needs.
You also improve patient retention and patient satisfaction by effectively strengthening their relationship. When patients are happy with the health care services you provide, they are more likely to recommend your services to others. This is an efficient way to grow your clinical practice.
We consulted our experts and found ways that physicians could improve their relationship with their patients.
1 – Listen to Patients
Patients only desire to be heard by their doctor. This shows respect for their self-diagnosis and also builds trust. Patients are often worried about their well-being when they come for a visit. Active listening can help to lessen this anxiety and also help you understand the needs of your patient.
It can also enhance the patient’s capacity to make more informed decisions about their care because you seem understanding. This affirms, validates and appreciates their perception.
Many times, patients who feel their doctor didn’t hear them completely will avoid future health checks. They may even decide against getting medical care in the future as they suspect that the doctor will tell them that they are overreacting or exaggerating their ailments and pain.
You can effectively improve the doctor-patient relationship through active listening:
- Reading the body language and making eye contact with the patient. Avoid crossing your arms or standing over your patients.
- Don’t multitask when consulting patients. If you need to make notes, let the patient know so they understand you are listening to what they have to say.
- Avoid interrupting the patient when they are speaking. Let them express their concerns and worries before you respond.
- Be active-minded in understanding the unique context of the life of your patient, avoiding any misconception.
2 – Communicate Better
Effective communication is extremely important to improve the doctor-patient relationship. This is the most efficient way to make the patient feel understood and supported.
You can follow these tips to improve the communication channel between you and your patients:
- Using language that is devoid of medical jargon so that the details, information and instructions are easy to understand and follow by a layman.
- Using visual aids, such as photos, videos or infographics, to explain complicated healthcare topics.
- Keep some time aside to let the patient ask questions and gain additional information.
- Using the teach-back technique. This is a proven method for evaluating and confirming whether the patient has understood the instructions and information they are given.
- Being honest and sensible when communicating bad news or talking about the death of oneself or loved ones.
3 – Show Empathy
According to research, patients are more likely to leave with a positive experience if they encounter empathy and compassion from their doctor.
Empathy is a vital part of any doctor-patient relationship. When you show your patients that you understand their worries and recognize how they feel, you can inherently improve patient satisfaction. It is also highly helpful in building patient trust, calming anxiety and improving treatment results.
Doctors should also empathize with patients according to their medical problems. For example, patients suffering from dementia would need a unique approach when encountered in the office.
Research studies have also shown that compassion and empathy improve the patient’s emotional health, physiological responses, pain levels and symptoms too.
4 – Get Patient Feedback
Collecting patient feedback is an excellent way to improve relationships with your patients. This practice proves that you are interested in what the patient says and understand their experience to improve their health care.
When collecting patient feedback, you should explain to the patient why it matters to your practice and how their feedback helps. Explain to them that their feedback is essential to recognize what matters most and the correct steps to improve the patient’s experience even more. This will highly encourage your patient to give honest feedback.
In some cases, patients may complain of a bad experience and approach physicians in a rude manner. In most cases, people do not know how to communicate efficiently and are just trying to defend something valuable to them. Empathy is key to understanding these situations.
5 – Respond to Reviews
Research studies have shown that only around 8% of healthcare providers ever respond to negative feedback. If you are looking to improve your relationship with your patients, then you should take the time to respond to all your reviews – good and bad included.
When you respond to negative feedback, you get the chance to gain the loyalty and trust of the patient.
It is a sign that shows you care for their opinion and experience. It shows that you are genuinely interested in hearing patients’ feedback to improve your healthcare services.
When you collect patient feedback, it is essential to take out time to analyze the comments and provide easy-to-understand insights. When you listen to your patients, it can be the driving force of improvement in your medical practice which will inherently affect the doctor-patient relationship.