Now we know that communication is important, but how exactly can you become a good communicator? To help you improve your skills, we have compiled a list of dos and don'ts that you should keep in mind when interacting with a patient.
- Empathy: A lot of the time, patients just want to feel as though they are being taken seriously. Empathize with them, and demonstrate that you understand how they feel. Many patients are in a vulnerable state when they are seeking medical treatment, so making them feel heard can have a big impact.
- Clarity: It is always important to remember that whilst you know all of the medical jargon, your patients almost certainly do not. Patients should leave an appointment with a clear understanding of their treatment plan or medical advice, so ensuring you use clear, easily understood language is important.
- Listen: It might seem obvious, but actually listening to your patients is a factor that doctors sometimes fall short on. This means no interruptions, good body language, and asking them relevant questions.
- Small talk: If you have a busy schedule, you are more likely to want to get straight to the point and sometimes small talk can seem unnecessary. However, if you greet the patient, introduce yourself and ask some questions about their day, your patient is more likely to feel at ease and comfortable with you during the appointment.
- Note-taking: Taking accurate clinical notes is a significant aspect of working as a healthcare professional. Whilst it is important that these notes are written as soon as possible so that the information is fresh in your mind, we don’t recommend writing them during the session. If you are continuously writing things down, your patients may feel like you are not paying attention to them. Instead, wait until after the session and then focus on maintaining the written record of your clinical notes.
Effective patient communication through patient portals
Patient portals are frequently implemented by healthcare practices to improve communication between doctors and patients. A patient portal provides a two-way communication channel that facilitates direct communication between doctors and patients. Often, doctors that have busy schedules fail to remain in regular contact with their patients. A patient portal makes interactions significantly easier, as they are available 24/7 and you don’t need to communicate via administrative staff. Patient portals increase the transparency of treatment plans and allow patients to be more included in the decision-making process. Other features commonly integrated within patient portals include access to medical records, appointment history, invoice information, and online payment tools. By using a patient portal, you are guaranteed to optimize your relationship with your patients and ensure they are satisfied with the delivery of healthcare services. Prioritizing the needs of your patients is of utmost importance within healthcare practices, and it would be a great disservice to not experience the excellent features portals have to offer.