For Clinicians The Practice Handbook

6 ways to improve doctor-patient relationships

Establishing a solid doctor-patient relationship can be challenging, but it is something that is incredibly valuable. 

Having a good connection with your patients can help you to better understand their needs and improve their overall health. Strengthening the doctor-patient relationship can also improve patient satisfaction and patient retention. What’s more, if your patients are happy with your care, they are more likely to recommend your services, which can help you to grow your medical practice.

Related: Best marketing strategies for medical practices.

In this post, we’re sharing how to improve the doctor-patient relationship to benefit you and your patients mutually. 

How to improve doctor-patient relationships:

  1. Listen to your patients
  2. Communicate effectively with your patients
  3. Demonstrate empathy
  4. Collect patient feedback
  5. Respond to all your reviews
  6. Take the right steps to improve your patient experience

Listen to your patients

Patients want to be heard by their doctors. It shows respect for their self-diagnosis and builds trust. 

Your patients will often be worried about their health and well-being when they visit you. Active listening can help to lessen this anxiety. It can also increase your patient’s capacity to make more informed decisions about their care because they will feel understood, affirmed, validated and appreciated. Too often, patients who believe that they haven’t been properly listened to will avoid future health checks and go without proper medical care because they expect to be told they’re overreacting or exaggerating their pain and symptoms. 

How to improve your doctor-patient relationships with active listening:

  1. Assess your body language and make eye contact with your patient. Avoid crossing your arms and standing over your patients.
  2. Don’t multitask. If you need to make notes, let the patient know to assure them that you’re listening to what they’re saying.
  3. Try not to interrupt the patient when they speak. Let them express their worries and concerns first before responding.

Communicate effectively with your patients

Clear communication plays a vital role in improving the doctor-patient relationship as it makes your patients feel supported and understood.

It is recommended that communication with patients includes: 

  1. Language that is free from medical jargon so that information and instructions are understandable and easy to digest.
  2. The use of visuals such as photos, infographics or videos content to explain complicated topics. Get inspired by the Know Your Lemons breast cancer awareness campaign.
  3. The space for patients to ask questions and gain further information.
  4. The teach-back technique – a proven method for assessing and confirming whether a patient has understood the information and instructions that they have been given. 

Demonstrate empathy

At Doctify, we have noticed that patients will often leave positive reviews when they have experienced empathy and compassion 

Empathy is a necessary part of any doctor-patient relationship. Showing your patients that you understand their concerns and recognise how they feel can improve patient satisfaction. It is also highly effective in building patient trust, calming anxiety, and improving health outcomes. 

Research has shown that empathy and compassion improves patients’ emotional health, symptoms, physiologic responses, and pain levels. 

Watch the Cleveland Clinic’s video to see the power of empathy in healthcare.

Collect patient feedback

Collecting patient feedback is a great way of improving your doctor-patient relationships. It shows that you want to hear from your patients, understand their experiences and improve their future care.

When gathering patient feedback, explain to your patients why it matters to your practice and how you will be using their comments. Let them know that it will help you to recognise what matters to them the most and what steps you can take to make their experiences even better. This will often increase the likelihood of your patients leaving feedback. 

Find out how you can collect more patient reviews this year.

Respond to all your reviews

On average, only 8% of doctors, dentists and healthcare professionals respond to their negative feedback. If you want to improve your doctor-patient relationships, take the time to reply to all your reviews, whether they are good or bad. 

In particular, responding to negative reviews can give you the opportunity to gain the trust and loyalty of your patients. It shows that you genuinely care. You want to hear all feedback and take steps to drive the right improvements .

“Patients really appreciate it when doctors take a complaint seriously and respond. A negative review can actually play in our favour”, said Dr Harald K Widhalm, a Doctify member and orthopaedic and trauma surgeon based in Vienna, Austria. 

Take the right steps to improve your patient experience

When collecting feedback, it is important to carve out time in order to analyse the comments that have been left by your patients. That way, you can understand what patients enjoy about their experiences and what improvements you should make to build upon them. 

At Doctify, we help providers to analyse the patient feedback that they collect with us and supply them with actionable, easy-to-digest insights, empowering them to drive the right improvements to their care.

Listening to your patient feedback and using their voices as the driving force of change within your medical practice is one of the best ways to improve your doctor-patient relationships.

If you want to learn more about how we can support you in increasing your patient engagement and improving your doctor-patient relationships, visit our Provider Centre and get in touch with our team.

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