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Stephen O'Connor

By: Stephen O'Connor on March 29th, 2016

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5 Steps to Building a Successful Patient Relationship

Healthcare Advice

 Successful Patient RelationshipIn a busy practice, you may get so far behind in finishing tasks that you give less attention and time to your patients than you’d prefer. The key to a thriving practice is to make sure you develop a good rapport between staffers and patients.

To help you improve the situation, here are five steps to building a successful patient relationship that you can start taking today.

1. Cultivate a Better Bedside Manner

Deep down, you may already know whether you have a good bedside manner or if your interpersonal skills could stand some improvement. Developing and maintaining good relationships with your patients involves being compassionate and mindful that they may be scared or confused and need some reassurance. 

Your knowledge of the body, what can go wrong with it and the treatment options at your disposal will be used more effectively when patients feel comfortable with you during each encounter. 

Medical professionals who put up a wall are trying to avoid getting too attached to patients because they must remain objective to treat them properly, and that’s quite understandable. Unfortunately, if you show little ease and compassion, patients may feel inhibited and won’t provide you with all the information you need to make your best diagnosis.

2. Tell the Truth

It’s important to be honest with your patients. Misleading them into thinking they have a better chance of recovery than the facts of the situation seem to suggest is not going to help them or you in the long run. 

The truth can often hurt, but doctors need to be truthful about changes patients must make to get healthy as well. If you have a morbidly obese patient but decline to bring up the host of medical issues that can result from being overweight, you are withholding the truth. If they smoke and you ignore this fact to avoid a confrontation, you miss an opportunity to help them dramatically improve their cardiovascular health.

3. Allow Sufficient Time for Each Encounter

If you budget just a few minutes to see a patient when the situation clearly requires a bit more time, relationships can sour quickly. Make sure the staff is careful about how much time they allocate to each encounter. 

If you are still feeling pressed for time, it could be a sign that you need to take on additional staff, or at least examine your basic processes to see if there any inefficiencies you can correct.

4. Watch Your Body Language

The stance you maintain and the way you hold your arms or even the way you walk into a room can speak volumes about your attitude toward patients. Folding your arms can make you look defensive and this may be off-putting to a patient who is feeling vulnerable and exposed, for example.

Attend a seminar or read a book on body language to ensure you express yourself in a way that is conducive to making patients more comfortable.

5.  Give Patients Freedom with a Patient Portal

One of the major complaints that people have about doctor appointments is having to fill out redundant paperwork, such as writing in their name, contact person and a list of medications they’re currently taking on more than one intake form.

If you deploy a patient portal in your electronic health record application, you give patients more convenience. They can sign in to the portal before their first visit, typing in their information just once.

The portal also lets them do things like contact the staff (such as to ask a quick question about a new medication) or to get the results of a recent lab test. By offering a patient portal, you show that you value their time and this will definitely improve the relationship.

Satisfied patients are the lifeblood of your medical practice. When patients don’t feel they have a good relationship with doctors and nurses in your facility, they may be less inclined to recommend your services to their friends and family. This can lead to a decline in business, so it’s in your best interest to take all necessary steps to improve the relationships between your medical professionals and the patients.

Key Takeaway

  • Building a successful patient relationship takes time and effort, so don’t think it will happen over night.
  • Improve your bedside manner as needed so your patients will feel more comfortable with you.
  • A patient portal with your EHR will please your patients because it saves them time and makes it easier to get information from the staff.
  • Make sure you budget enough time for each encounter so patients don’t feel rushed.
  • Your body language speaks volumes about your disposition. Take care to improve body language so you don’t appear closed off.

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About Stephen O'Connor

As a Director of Digital Marketing at Advanced Data Systems Corporation, Stephen spends his day's planning, writing, & designing resources for the modern healthcare professional. He has a strong affinity for snow crab legs, the ocean, and Rutgers Football.