Better Healthcare Practices: 7 Ways to Improve Patient Communication
There were well over 33 million total admissions to hospitals in the U.S. in 2020. This doesn’t consider all the other healthcare services and treatments outside of hospital care! With such huge numbers of people seeking healthcare services, you would think they might all be satisfied with what they receive. However, the reality is that many patients feel disconnected from their healthcare providers, and one of the reasons for this is a lack of good patient communication.
This is evident from the foremost research conducted on the matter, published in 2010. This guide will look into 7 ways healthcare practices can improve patient communication and satisfaction levels. Let’s get started.
1. Create a Welcoming Routine
If you don’t have a welcoming routine, you should implement one immediately! As with most circumstances in life, first impressions count.
Healthcare professionals should aim to create a positive, warm, and reassuring vibe in the first few seconds of meeting a patient. To do this, you can address the patient by name and then say who you are. Feel free to shake hands with the patient if you think it is appropriate and within your comfort zone.
To create a good rapport, to begin with, don’t go into anything medical. Instead, try some light-hearted small talk and ask a few easy-going questions.
Then, when it comes to the medical side of things, make sure to listen to the patient about their concerns and what they hope to achieve with the visit.
2. Stay Present
It’s all too easy to get caught up with all the multitasking demands of the day. Yet, when you have a patient in front of you, all those demands need to take a back seat. One of the worst things a medical professional can do is start dealing with other problems when they have a patient sitting with them (it’s highly unprofessional).
So, before a new patient comes in, you need to get yourself into the present and distance yourself from the multiple racing thoughts you might have. Learning a simple meditation routine that lasts a minute or so can help with this.
3. Explore New Communication Channels
Technology offers plenty of options these days for you to develop new communication channels for your healthcare practice. The idea is you harness technology to make your life easier while increasing patient satisfaction levels.
For instance, if you offer a text service reminding your patients of their upcoming appointment, you’ll give them some reassurance. It might be the case that you get a consultant in to help you with these sorts of tech-based ideas to improve your practice in a communication sense.
4. Develop Stronger Note-Taking Habits
Building a good rapport with patients will naturally lead to better patient communication. One way to achieve this is to take more extensive notes about each patient you see. These notes should be about medical issues and anything else they share or confide in with you.
For example, you may have a patient who recently talks about their son starting school for the first time. The next time they come, follow up with that conversation and ask how he got on. If you took good notes the first time, you’d be able to pull up the son’s name and other small details.
The whole idea is you show that you care about your patients by developing a patient relationship. You want to make them happy to see you and trust you with their medical problems. And this tactic is a surefire way to increase patient retention!
5. Educate Your Patients
One of the biggest problems healthcare professionals face nowadays is their patients trying to self-diagnose themselves online. A good way to help your patients is to educate them a little about some reputable online sources if they are intent on looking online to figure out their medical problems.
You also should reassure them that it’s always best to reach out to you for the proper attention they deserve regarding their medical issues. Let them know that the internet can create unnecessary anxieties for people when they try to match up their symptoms with a mishmash of info from a Google search!
6. Get Your Internal Communication in Line
Compassionate care starts by getting your house in order first. If your internal communications are causing problems for patients, you need to rethink how you’re doing things.
You can begin by developing new ways of communicating with your current practice staff. If this seems too difficult, it’s worth looking into getting well-trained individuals to bolster your operations and give you new perspectives on handling your communications.
But don’t disregard nurturing talent within your own practice. For example, one of your admin staff could show good patient care and interaction levels. Why not explore training courses for them where they could become a nursing assistant, for instance?
7. Empathy Is Key
People will always appreciate empathy from all walks of life. Showing more empathy in your practice at all levels is a good way to generate more patient satisfaction and retention rates.
If you feel you’re not such an empathetic person in your default demeanor, put some effort into learning some empathetic behaviors. You don’t have to go all out in your efforts. Improve yourself slowly and incrementally. Test out what sort of “empathetic” behaviors work well for you and your patients.
In the end, it comes down to showing interest and compassion to patients. Learning to listen better is where all this starts.
Don’t Overlook Patient Communication
Focus on better patient communication in your healthcare practice. You will see rewards in the form of greater patient retention and potentially more patients coming your way through your reputation level increase. Follow our tips mentioned above to get you on the right pathway to achieve these results.
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