The key aim of any medical center and any doctor is to have a happy and satisfied client. Communication skills are fundamental when talking about medicine and customer services. A successful medical business is built on trust and communication both between staff and, of course, doctors and patients. That is why understanding the critical notions of communication in the healthcare industry is a must-have for any doctor.
The doctor-patient relationship has to be developed and maintained, and that is not the most straightforward task. However, as it is a must, a good doctor has no choice but to learn the main communication rules with patients and patient relationship management. It is almost as important as having a higher medical education. But, sure, much easier!
At least, we have prepared this article to make you feel comfortable while talking to patients and managing the healthcare business. Let's learn how to satisfy patients with quality medical service and effective, friendly communication.
#2 How to become a good doctor
Code of medical ethics is among the primary papers studied to balance quality medical services and effective communication in a medical center.
Professional communication for a doctor includes the following unspoken rules:
Show concern, empathy, and sensitivity to each patient's feelings.
Be tactful, do not try to infringe on the personal boundaries of the patient.
Constantly strive for honest communication based on respect.
Make patients trust you: always be able to explain all the recommendations, prescriptions, and drugs. Never show that the patient is silly or cannot get something. Explain until he understands.
Constantly develop professional and personal skills: pay attention to the modern techniques, inventions, training, etc.
Respect your colleagues: Never talk about them in a lousy manner, especially to patients.
And sure, the most important, be an expert in your field.
The main communication models for doctor-patient relationship:
A doctor speaks strictly to the point. He never shows concern and empathy and does not share the details of the treatment. Even though the results can be the best, this model is the direct way to fail. The patient will not understand what is going on – he'll see the doctor as the robot or a computer constantly working and will never be sure that the decision is the only right one. Statistics show that patients tend to change doctors who communicate in this manner.
A doctor and patient work altogether, deciding how to solve the problem in the best possible way. The main disadvantage is that the patient's unstable psychological state can interfere with treatment. This model seems to be okay, but it is not very popular as, usually, patients and doctors aren't comfortable with this cooperation, especially dealing with severe diseases and decisions.
A doctor dominates the decision-making process. However, he still tells the patient about each prescription, procedure, and medicine, answers questions in detail, and carefully accepts all incoming information. The doctor listens to the patient, and it is the most important. He understands the patient's fears and tries to explain everything in detail to calm the patient down. This model is the ideal one. But, unfortunately, even nowadays, it is rarely found.
#3 Duties of a doctor and patient's responsibilities
There are many rules for doctors and much less for patients. That is logical as medical staff offer services, so they have to follow standards of quality. However, it does not mean that patients have the right to act as they want. Therefore, we have prepared the complete list of communication guidelines both for healthcare staff and patients.
Communication guideline for medical staff (nurse, paramedic, doctor):
Respect patients, their time and emotions, never ignore their fears and feelings.
Support patients emotionally.
Talk openly about the disease, dangers, possible risks, and methods of treatment.
Create a friendly atmosphere that helps to communicate correctly, safe time and nerves – caring, secure, and confidential.
Decrease patient waiting time.
Ask the patient whether he is satisfied with your services.
Be aware of the current realities of the healthcare system and the regulations that affect it.
Communication guideline for patients of a medical center:
Tell all the symptoms of the disease, never hide or add anything, describe all the complaints in detail.
Respect yourself and your doctor: be polite, avoid rudeness and conflicts.
Understand that your role is important in this partnership.
Know your health, be aware of the diseases, and never ignore check-outs.
Always warn about allergies and previous side effects of any therapy. Be sure to inform your doctor what medications you are currently taking, including prescription drugs, dietary supplements, or herbal remedies. Don't forget to tell the doctor which medicines you've stopped taking and name the reasons why. If you don't, your doctor may mistakenly believe that the drugs don't work in your case.
Punctuality: respect your and the medical staff's time. Try to always be on time for the appointment. If anything happens, inform the medical center or your doctor to keep them calm and save their time and nerves.
If you don't like anything, talk about it! It is the only way your doctor will understand that the medical service or communication is unpleasant or doesn't work – no need to put up with mistreatment.
If your doctor has left you his number or any other contact information to keep in touch, respect his time. Never distract him when it is unnecessary, out of work hours, etc. The only possible exception is an emergency. If anything happens, be brief and polite.
#4 Fighting fears and overcoming anxiety
Today, patients are sometimes afraid to seek medical health, primarily because of the previous negative experience they've had. A professional doctor has to solve all these trust issues and convince the client that everything goes just right. It is impossible to do without well-developed client-relationship management in a healthcare center.
Here is a list of the main ways of returning trust for medical services:
Encourage a patient to bring a friend or family member to get support and help them absorb the information. It is especially useful if a patient has memory problems.
Advice a patient to write down all the worries and complaints, so when he meets a doctor, he will not forget anything because of nerves, fears, or just a bad memory.
Practice a multidimensional approach to make sure a patient is comfortable.
Take a look at a patient's medical card before every appointment. It will help to refresh your memory and avoid the same questions. Remember, if a patient has to retell the story from meeting to meeting, he will think that the doctor isn't professional. The best way to simplify this process is to use a CRM system.
The software system stores the patient's history, prescriptions, and all complaints. Plus, there are many more handy tools that optimize the healthcare business in general.
#5 Right decision-making for doctors
Medical decisions are most often include several factors:
Similar to all the crucial decisions, the medical ones boil down to the cost-benefit analysis. In this case, the "costs" and "benefits" are even more important than money. Here, they are not financial. Since we deal with healthcare, we are talking about physical and emotional aspects. For example, a drug may benefit from reducing inflammation and has the unwanted side effect of nausea or loss of appetite. Patients and medical staff assess these "costs" and "benefits" differently based on their own experience.
Doctors and their patients often disagree about the benefits of a particular medicine. It is necessary to talk and express all the fears and advantages of each drug or medical prescription. Plus, remember the golden rule:
A good doctor has to balance between a reasonable price and good medicine
It means that if a patient cannot afford a particular drug, a doctor should try to find an affordable alternative. But, again, effective professional communication will help a lot in this complicated process of negotiation and decision-making.
A doctor may choose medicine as part of a treatment plan for the following reasons:
The drug acts fast and effectively.
According to the doctor, the cost-benefit ratio is acceptable.
Randomized controlled trials have shown the efficacy and safety of the drug.
Long-term follow-up has shown promising results.
The milder medicine currently used does not work.
However, if we are talking about partnership, we cannot forget the role of a patient. Sure, a doctor has the leading position, but anyway, a patient has the right to reject the prescribed medicine.
Patients may not want to take medication for the following reasons:
A patient has a negative experience, or his family members advised him no to take this particular drug.
Patients fear medicine more than the disease.
Patients have heard about the negative experience of other patients.
The information on Internet can mislead patients, where "experts" claim that the medicine is toxic and dangerous.
The medicine is rare, expensive, or has no reviews at all.
#6 CRM for patient relationship management
"How are CRM systems and patient relationship management connected?" – you may ask.
There are several reasons why CRM system is a must-have for a medical business:
A patient gets the ability of 24/7 online booking. It reduces the risk of misunderstandings while calling, messaging, or even talking face to face.
Online appointments help to distribute the medical staff's workload, avoid queues and quarrels. So, it helps to reduce even the possibility of the unhealthy atmosphere in a medical center.
Medical staff and managers can get all the medical information about any patient: previous visits, diagnosis, treatment, complaints, etc.
CRM system can calculate staff commission, so it is possible to pay salary, reward or collect fines.
Widget and website will be automatically created once you sign up. It is easy-to-use, functional, and customizable.
CRM is also a great helper when analyzing business performance. It shows all the canceled appointments, successfully closed cases, complaints, and issues. All this data is vital for developing effective professional communication in a medical center.
A healthy doctor-patient relationship is the basis of a healthcare business. Unfortunately, many medical clinics are packed with the best equipment and have professional teams but cannot succeed. Mainly because of poor communication.
Remember: We work with and for people. Patient-oriented medical businesses always win.
That is why communication skills are almost as necessary as higher medical education, learning, developing, and similar professional stuff. Communication with patients has to stay easy, open, and friendly. However, always tell the truth and never hide any information. If you cope with this, be sure everything else will be just fine.
There are no ready-made solutions. But, nowadays, it is possible to achieve a new level of quality with the help of different CRM systems. There is various software in the current market. The task is to find the one you like most. CRM systems are best in business optimization as they automate all the routine processes, saving your money, time and nerves.
EasyWeek is a young, ambitious service made to simplify the work-life of medical staff. It reduces misunderstandings by offering 24/7 online booking, a client base, widget, and personal page that works like a mini-website. Try EasyWeek appointment scheduling software to check how well it works for you. We offer a free 14-day trial and fast support in case you have any questions.
Let's grow together!