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How to Build a Better Doctor–Patient Relationship

When caring for a patient, there are a lot of things to keep in mind from keeping track of all their symptoms to trying to determine the best treatment plan. However, it is also important to consider the doctor–patient relationship and seek to improve the bond of trust as much as possible. After all, a strong doctor–patient relationship is essential to improving patient experience and loyalty. Here are three tried and true ways to build a better relationship with the patient.

Get to Know Them

Bedside manner can be one of the most important elements of a good doctor–patient relationship. Instrumental in a good bedside manner is taking the time to talk with your patients about things outside their medical history and current conditions. Knowing more about a patient’s family, friends, and hobbies can help them feel more comfortable in the clinic and may even encourage them to open up more about their medical history.

As an added benefit, knowing more about your patients outside of just their signs and symptoms may help you develop a more effective treatment plan. Cultural values and beliefs may impact a patient’s health behaviors and influence whether they will comply with certain recommendations.

Listen to Them

With increasing access to the internet and a steady bombardment of targeted pharmaceutical advertisements, patients may come in with a preconceived idea of what their diagnosis is and what medication they want to receive. In these cases, it can be challenging to maintain patient satisfaction while also maintaining professionalism. However, it is important to listen to your patients’ concerns and ideas about what they are experiencing. This will improve the relationship and their compliance.

Good listening also involves noting each symptom the patient brings up and not rushing into a diagnosis early in the visit. Considering all possible diagnoses can help doctors avoid medical malpractice lawsuits. Taking the time to understand all the symptoms a patient is experiencing can also help alleviate their stress during the visit.

Give Your Full, Focused Attention

For a patient, it can be stressful to travel to a doctor’s office and spend up to an hour or more in the waiting room only to be seen by the physician for ten minutes. While these short visits may be justified, it is always helpful for the doctor–patient relationship to make each visit feel complete. Truly take the time to hear all the patient’s concerns and answer each question they have. It may also be beneficial to sit down and talk with the patient without writing anything down. This makes them feel as if they have your fullest attention.

These points also extend to others working in the medical office. Receptionists and nurses should all strive to provide the best, most timely service they can to each patient. In the eyes of a patient, the staff of a clinic is representative of the quality of the doctor. It is not easy, and it definitely takes some practice, but these tips can help develop a stronger doctor–patient relationship and improve the quality of healthcare overall.
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