Bedside manner isn’t just for hospitals — it has to do with the general relationship between a doctor and their patients, as well as treatment. In fact, people expect more proficient bedside manner when it comes to their primary care physicians and the offices they frequent, because they have gotten to know these doctors, and hopefully vice versa. So is there a way for these smaller offices to build upon their bedside manner? Of course! We’ve come up with a few:
This is going to be your biggest and most easily obtained way to build your bedside manner, because empathy can take as little as sixty seconds. When we say “empathy” we mean the ability to relate to another’s thoughts, feelings, and circumstances — literally, “Oh, I feel you” or “I understand you.” It goes such a long way, and is worth every moment you spend using it. It doesn’t make the appointments any longer than they “need” to be, but rather makes lasting impressions on you as a caregiver, and will bring you closer to understanding your patient as a whole. Health is more than just physical, it’s also emotional and mental, so it’s important that you can connect with them at least a little bit.
Now, that doesn’t mean be blunt without any kind of buffer or filter over what you say. While it might work with some patients, a majority would rather have a softer conversation. What we mean by transparent is tell them what they need to know, when they want to know it. Unless you truly do not know the answer to their questions (in which case, be honest and try to find the answer ASAP), keep your responses to the point, and not vague.
It’s weird to think, but a lot of people see doctors as these otherworldly beings that are just plain hard to talk to. You don’t have to reveal your whole life story, but try to make yourself relatable to the patients — this goes hand in hand with the idea of empathy. If you can find common ground that both of you can stand on, then getting them to open up will be that much easier, as well as gain their trust.
Let them take control of the conversation.
Your job is to sit and listen to what the patient has to say, and listen to their concerns as well as their complaints. You can steer the conversation in the right direction, but the more you hear from the patient, the better they’re going to feel about your decision as a physician.
Empathy is going to be your biggest and best friend when it comes to bedside manner, so remember to put yourself out there, listen, and relate! You’ll see that your patients have a higher satisfaction level, and they’ll keep coming back!
A patient can come into a health clinic for a vast and often times overwhelming amount of reasons, and as a doctor or a nurse, it can be difficult to hone in on the problem given the small time frame we have. We all know, though, how important it is to have that relationship with the patient, and how bedside manner can even affect their health. So here are some tips on how to improve patient satisfaction!
- When you enter the room, greet the patient by their name. It’s very easy to walk into the examination room and say “hello” or some other vague greeting, but once you sprinkle on that added name, it turns the patient into a whole other being: an individual, rather than a list of symptoms on a piece of paper. Names have a sort of unspoken power, and the more you use them, the more influence you will have with the patient.
- The following sentence should be your ideal greeting for new patients: “Hello [insert patient’s name here], I am [insert your name] and I do [blank].” Let the patient know who you are and what it is you do, what your area of study is, or what you’re specifically seeing them for. This is great for a patient who is seeing multiple doctors in a single visit, because it gives them a glimpse into their care and lets them know what’s going on, rather than them staring after you blankly while you start your examination or series of tests.
- Let your patients talk. Sometimes their stories might be long, but they usually have a point. Practitioners typically try to redirect the conversation after not even a minute, but if you give the patient some 60 seconds to explain themselves and their concerns; you’d be surprised at what you can gather from these stories about their lifestyle and how it might correlate.
- While you might not agree with every internet diagnosis that walks into your office, you still have to see the patient, because their symptoms are real. So hear them out, take them seriously, and don’t downplay their concerns no matter what WedMD might have told them.
- Be honest with your patients when it comes to their symptoms. Meaning, if you don’t know the answer or need to do more research, tell them. It’s better than making up an answer and leaving them more confused than before.
These are just a few ways to help keep your patient satisfaction rate high and, by extension, the staff’s satisfaction high as well! Just remember that everyone is human with human concerns and worries; your patients are there seeking your help, so let’s give it to them!