Building Rapport with Patients
The importance of having a good rapport with your patients can not be understated. Patients that endorse a good rapport with their Physician report higher satisfaction levels with their care and are less likely to initiate action for medical liability issues. The importance of patient trust cannot be overstated. To help residents create a positive and lasting relationship, consider trying some of these easy tips for building rapport with patients.
Build rapport by telling the patient something about yourself
When meeting a new patient don't just introduce yourself, tell them a little about yourself. Avoid being formal and unrelatable with the patient. Try instead to relate with them on a personal level by telling them a little about who you are. You don't have to be best friends, just work on being open, warm and friendly. This goes a long way in establishing patient trust.
Take interest in who patients are outside the clinic
Try asking if anything new or important has happened with your patient lately. Showing interest in the patient as a person not only strengthens the patient-provider relationship, it also increases your understanding of factors that could be influencing their health.
Try to imagine how the patient feels. It can be scary when you have been told you have a medical problem and you don't fully understand what is going on. Alleviate patient fears by explaining what actions you plan to pursue, why you are doing it and what the possible outcomes could be.
Avoid being judgmental
Patients are vulnerable when they visit the clinic and need to feel accepted by the resident and free to discuss personal issues. Provide them with an open and accepting safe zone for sharing.
Encourage them to ask questions
A resident simply asking a patient "Do you have any questions?" can be powerful. This encourages an open discussion, grows patient trust and eliminates any authoritative "one sided visits".
Patients present to residents when things aren't going well. Pain, anxiety or distress can cause intense reactions that need to be handled with a calm, understanding approach to ensure the best outcomes.
Empower your patients to be an active member in their own care. Try fostering patient interest by asking them their opinions and expectations regarding their treatment and care. Explain that you and the patient are a team that must work together to create the best health outcomes.
Use laymen's terms
A patient will trust you more if you're speaking in terms they can understand. Explain testing results in plain and easy to understand language. Using medical jargon creates a communication barrier that is counterproductive and confusing for patients.
Reassurance is a key factor in building a good physician-patient relationship for residents. Patients are frequently anxious and unsure when being told they have a medical issue. By providing reassurance, a provider can establish a relationship of trust with the patient.
Be an active listener
Negative clinical interactions often include one sided, Physician-driven discussions. Instead of barraging the patient with questions, try listening to them. Digest what they say and acknowledge them by repeating what they have expressed. This simple act can eliminate a common patient complaint of "not being heard" by their Physician, and helps build a positive rapport.
Ask their opinion
Be sure to ask the patient about how they feel and if they are they comfortable with their resident care. This question gives the patient an opportunity to express their feelings while also understanding that you value their opinion.
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