A good doctor-patient dynamic is critical for ensuring that a treatment plan works to its best.
The relationship between patients and their healthcare providers is a crucial component in the overall healthcare experience and patient journey. The key to developing stronger doctor-patient relationships is to understand why patients want to stay with a particular doctor.
What motivates them to come back? What is it about a particular practice that works for them? There are certain factors that contribute to the bigger picture – a clean office, a good receptionist, efficient management – but the biggest factor is a doctor’s bedside manner.
Patients value the ability of a doctor to empathize with their patients and listen to their doubts without judgement. Retention is about building and sustaining relationships and without a feeling of personal connection, patients will not feel comfortable with their healthcare provider. As with any successful two-way relationship, the patient and the doctor must both commit for it to work.
If you’re a doctor or a clinic and you want to gain insights into what retains patients, read on. TABIIB has listed a few ways which can help you build effective doctor-patient relationships.
1. Communicate clearly
Nobody appreciates being rushed through an appointment. A big part of ensuring that a patient feels comfortable enough to share their health concerns, is to treat them like an individual. If you speak to them like they’re a walking medical condition, then they’ll shut down and won’t be open to sharing information.
Building a rapport involves a degree of familiarity and informality for the dynamic to work. Open communication lies within the duty of care of a physician and it’s important to implement the same to maintain an effective doctor-patient relationship.
2. Be prepared before an appointment
Medical histories are a way of understanding a patient’s needs and anticipating their concerns. If you spend the appointment asking them questions which they’ve already answered in the form, they’ll feel like you’re not taking them seriously enough. By anticipating their needs, you can also help guide them through a specialized treatment plan and other options.
3. Keep them updated and maintain composure
Keeping patients in the dark regarding their treatments and medicines is going to make them distrust you. It’s best to keep them updated in terms of any progress or if something isn’t working out. Having an illness or dealing with healthcare is stressful. Keeping calm helps maintain an atmosphere of optimism.
4. Educate and inform your patients
The best way to empower your patients is to allow them to be more proactive in their health decisions. Doctors can build patient engagement by educating patients on various health strategies and medications that can help them. Conversely, if you’re not an expert on a specialized topic, redirect them to somebody who can help. For example, if a patient with cholesterol is looking towards eating healthy, you can point them towards a nutritionist or dietitian.
5. Be as explanatory as possible
This follows from the above point. Every patient values a doctor who takes the time to help them understand the ‘whats’ and the ‘whys’ of treatment and medicine. Professionalism is important but it’s equally important to add a personal touch.
6. Be timely with your responses
Patient care is now focussing more on bedside manner and engagement. This means that doctors should be aware of their end of the dynamic. If a patient asks a question or sends an email, you should get back to them as soon as possible. This demonstrates that you’re genuinely aware of the patient and their needs beyond the medicine.
Maintaining relationships with patients is crucial: not only because it serves your clinic’s growth but it also adds value to the caregiving experience. Healthcare providers live and work in a fast paced environment, but it’s still possible to slow down and cultivate deeper understanding and communication.