how-to-improve-practitioner-patient-communicationsFace-to-face with patients, practitioners are expected to do more and communicate better within the same or less time with the patient.

In addition to excellence in clinical care, and a positive outcome, effective and empathetic communications is the essential ingredient.

The typical practitioner-patient encounter is an agenda of important expectations, including:

  • favicon Achieving better outcomes
  • favicon Achieving greater patient compliance with a treatment plan
  • favicon Actively and respectfully listening
  • favicon Calming fears and answering concerns
  • favicon Creating a relationship and a care-team partnership
  • favicon Demonstrating cultural and ethnic sensitivity
  • favicon Informing the patient of treatment options
  • favicon Involving patients in their care decisions
  • favicon Positive patient experience and satisfaction
  • favicon Removing obstacles and objections
  • favicon Understanding the patient as an individual

When communications doesn’t work, there’s a part of healthcare that doesn’t work. Good communications skills can enhance outcomes, and impact how the patient evaluates their experience with the practitioner and the practice.

We need to re-tune our ears for conscious listening. We spend roughly 60 percent of our communication time listening, but we’re not very good at it. We retain just 25 percent of what we hear. Listening is our access to understanding.

For better listening, understanding and communications we need to:

  • favicon Pay attention to the patient
  • favicon Show acknowledgment, including small sounds like “OK” or “oh”
  • favicon Summarise for the patient, restate or confirm what you’ve heard
  • favicon Always ask questions after the patient has had their say

There are four powerful cornerstones of effective speaking and communications:

  • favicon Honesty – being true in what you say, straight and clear
  • favicon Authenticity – just being yourself
  • favicon Integrity – being somebody people can trust
  • favicon Caring – as in wishing people well, honesty tempered with compassion

Achievement in practitioner-patient communications is not always an issue of having “more time.” Patients find greater satisfaction when the practitioner is compassionate, listens, understands their issues, answers their questions and explains the treatment options.

Effective communications enhances satisfaction in the patient encounter, as well as in maintaining a positive patient-provider relationship.