As medical professionals, we tend to focus more on diagnosing and treating our patients than building interpersonal relationships with them. However, research shows positive interactions with patients are crucial for their overall well-being, satisfaction, and compliance with treatment plans.
Patients who feel heard, respected, and cared for are more likely to trust their healthcare providers and have better health outcomes. Let’s explore how medical professionals can improve patient interactions and strengthen these important relationships.
Practice Active Listening
As healthcare providers, we are often pressed for time and may need to rush through appointments to attend to other patients. However, this can make patients feel ignored and dismissed. To improve patient interactions, we must practice active listening, giving our full attention to patients, and showing empathy and understanding. You can achieve this by maintaining eye contact, asking open-ended questions, and summarizing the patient’s words to ensure you understand their concerns.
Embrace Diversity and Cultural Humility
Patients come from diverse backgrounds, and it’s essential to acknowledge and respect their unique needs and preferences. Medical professionals should strive to be culturally sensitive and provide care that aligns with patients’ beliefs and values. This mindset may include learning about the patient’s culture, language, and communication style. Adopting a mindset of cultural humility, which involves recognizing one’s limitations and biases, can also help medical professionals provide more patient-centered care.
Use PPE to Build Trust
Keeping workers and patients safe is a top priority. However, personal protective equipment (PPE) can make it challenging to establish rapport with patients because the masks cover our faces. To overcome this barrier, try introducing yourself and explaining why you wear PPE. Friendly body language and a calm tone can also help build patient trust. Wearing PPE is just one way to protect healthcare workers from seasonal illnesses.
Involve Patients in Decision-Making
Patients should actively participate in their healthcare decisions, and medical professionals should provide them with the necessary information and support to make informed choices. This step can help patients feel more empowered and invested in their care. Medical professionals can involve patients in decision-making by explaining the risks and benefits of different treatment options, asking about patients’ goals, preferences, and concerns, and collaborating with patients to create a care plan that meets their needs.
Follow Up and Show Appreciation
Following up with patients after their appointments can help improve patient interactions and build trust. Medical professionals can follow up with patients by sending reminders, calling to check in, or using patient portals to communicate. Sending appreciation notes or gifts can also show patients that their healthcare providers care about them and value their feedback.
Improving patient interactions is not rocket science, but it requires some effort and intentionality. By practicing active listening, embracing diversity, using plain language, involving patients in decision-making, and following up with patients, medical professionals can enhance patient care and foster positive relationships with their patients. As the medical field continues to evolve, it’s important to prioritize patient-centered care and strive to meet the unique needs of each patient that comes through your facility’s doors.