No one wants to feel like nothing more than an ID number on a file or a time-slot in a daily schedule. As a care provider, it is up to you to develop healthy relationships with your patients in order to give them the best quality care possible. Outcomes are often improved when there is a solid, trusting relationship between doctor and patient, so it’s worth your time to work to develop these connections. Here are a few important points to keep in mind as you work with your patients each day.
Keep Communication Open
Communication is a two-way street. You must be able to clearly communicate important information and instructions to your patients and you also need to be able to listen effectively to them, as well. By assuming that you know it all and ignoring your patients’ complaints or personal experiences, you can destroy the trust that is so important to working together for their benefit. Always be open and honest, while inviting your patients to speak with you candidly.
Create Clear Boundaries
Healthy boundaries are important in any relationship. While you want to be supportive and helpful to your patients, there must be a line in the sand that is clearly stated and enforced. By allowing patients too much freedom or becoming too personally familiar, you are setting yourself up for an awkward position. A friendly, yet professional relationship with careful interaction is the best way to protect yourself, your practice, and your patients from unfortunate situations and misunderstandings about your position in their personal lives.
Provide Empathy and Support
The “machine” of modern medicine can sometimes be cold and impersonal. Patients are more likely to put their trust in a physician or care provider who shows empathy and provides emotional support when they are dealing with a tough treatment regimen or a difficult diagnosis. Be well aware of your bedside manner and treat your patients in the way you would like to be treated if you were in their situation.
Invite Criticism and Feedback
No one gets it right all the time, and physicians are no exception. Make it easy for your patients to share their thoughts and concerns about the care they are receiving, how the operation of your practice works for them, and any other issue that may arise. Though sometimes it can be tough to hear that someone isn’t fully satisfied, especially when you are doing the best you can, offering the opportunity to speak out can help your patients to feel empowered and like they matter to you.
Work to Enact Change
When your patients provide you with feedback, take it into consideration and see what changes you can make in your practice or personal interactions to improve their experience. Be sure to share any changes or adjustments you have made based on patient feedback with the person who brought the issue to your attention.
There are many things that can be done to help enhance the patient-provider relationship. These tips are simply a starting point. Whether you are a physician, nurse, or pharmacist, what are some of the things that you have done to create better relationships with your patients? Share with us in the comments below.