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How Best to Establish Rapport with New Patients


Posted by Anonymous at 9/26/2017 8:16:28 AM

Physicians and Patients Establishing Trust is Crucial


How Best to Establish Rapport with New Patients

By Doug Bennett, Contributor


It often takes several visits before patients fully open up and feel comfortable sharing personal information with their physicians. For instance, few patients are naturally comfortable disclosing recreational drug use, addiction to alcohol, sexual practices or promiscuity to doctors, even when they have an established relationship.


What can physicians and other healthcare practitioners do to build trust and establish better rapport with patients? 


First, it’s important to recognize that building trust is unique to each individual relationship. There are no standards of care for offering compassion and empathy, although demonstrating those two qualities is the very foundation for building a healthy, trusting and productive doctor-patient relationship.


Building trust starts with consistently exercising common courtesies during a patient’s visit and other interactions with you and your staff—from the first call placed to schedule an appointment, to greeting a patient when they enter the reception area, and all the way through to follow-up calls when checking on a patient’s recovery. Ensure that you and your staff are consistently courteous, patient and helpful on the phone, as well as in the office.


Physicians can also build trust by remembering to listen patiently to each new patient, without interrupting. It’s been said that most patients tell you ninety percent of what’s wrong if they are allowed to talk for five minutes without interruption. Physicians can exploit this window of opportunity by trying not to second-guess what a patient is trying to explain and allowing the patient to fully communicate, in their own terms, what is troubling them.


Unfortunately, research shows that most physicians interrupt patients after less than twenty seconds. Although it might be necessary on occasion to interject in order to keep a discussion on track, allowing patients to talk without interruption for at least five minutes can make a substantial difference in building trust.


Making good eye contact is another excellent tactic for establishing good rapport with new patients. It’s really a no brainer, but many physicians overlook this simple, yet highly effective, practice because they need to simultaneously record comments during the examination. Using a voice recorder and transcription service is one solution.


Understanding and respecting a patient’s desire for modesty often gets overlooked in doctor offices and hospitals. When patients feel like their desire for modesty isn’t respected, it can contribute to generalized dissatisfaction with the physician. It’s important to ensure patients feel secure and comfortable when disrobing in an exam room, and that they are offered appropriately fitting gowns that fully cover their bodies. Keep in mind that many patients—especially the elderly—can struggle with how to properly don a hospital gown. A little guidance from a nurse can go a long way toward ensuring that a patient isn’t frustrated and potentially left feeling exposed.


Always be certain to exchange “common courtesy” greetings at the beginning of an appointment. This means introducing yourself, confirming that you know the patient’s name (or the name they prefer to be called), smiling, extending an apology if you’re running a few minutes behind, and even making a comment about the weather, such as “Wow, it’s blistering hot out there today!” These exchanges demonstrate to the patient that you are, first and foremost, a human being before you are a doctor. All too often busy physicians dispense with these normal and expected interactions. This can cause patients to feel invisible and sow feelings of distrust.


Although it is necessary for doctors to stand when physically evaluating a patient, it is also important to sit when talking to patients, e.g., when listening to the patient describe the reason for their visit, when going over test results or when outlining a treatment plan. Physicians should not underestimate how patients perceive vertical differences when making eye contact, so don’t ignore this subtle yet important dynamic.


Start establishing a good rapport with Merritt Hawkins’ professional placement specialists. Take advantage of our unparalleled healthcare staffing resources, with over 20 years of experience recruiting and placing physicians in rewarding career positions. Please browse through our extensive online jobs database and give us a call today.

 






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