10 Reasons Independent Doctors Should Polish up Their Communications Skills
Doctors in independent practice interact with many kinds of patients. This may create communication challenges that impact the quality of service they provide. Such professionals should be aware of ten areas where improving their proficiency is a key to relating to, and communicating with their clientele:
1) Stress-control dialogue
Anyone can work with an ‘easy’ going subject, who has a pleasant personality and normal intelligence. But a doctor must also be able to handle interacting with the “difficult” client as well. Such a patient may be argumentative, “nasty,” or even hysterical, and sometimes lacking enough IQ to understand certain instructions. A medical professional must develop skills to reach the harder-to-engage patient, and deescalate possible confrontations or conflicts.
2) Overcoming language issues
Many patients speak a different language, or communicate with a thick accent or colloquial manner. A doctor should have enough dexterity to use visual cues, written aids in several languages, or other tools to work with a wide range of subjects in his or her locality.
3) Presentation clarity
Patients have a fundamental expectation they will clearly know what medical issue they may have upon being examined. Doctors are trained to diagnose and identify problems accurately, but they should be able to plainly explain them to the patient. Clarity in presenting the diagnosis and treatment goes a long way towards giving patients peace of mind about their condition.
4) Creating a positive atmosphere
Patients tend to be much more receptive to instructions and dialogue when they perceive the experience with a medical facility to be supportive of their needs. The physician can more freely discuss sensitive information if the subject is happy with the setting and circumstances of the visit. Many clinic offices are therefore specially designed to support their comfort, available time, and privacy concerns to the maximum extent. The positive impression this gives patients makes communicating with them much easier.
5) Cooperation with treatment and medication
Patients can be successfully persuaded to comply with a recommended drug prescription or treatment procedure. They will do so if the rationale for the protocol is presented to them in a reasonable and inclusive manner. It is especially likely if the healthy lifestyle choices the patient is already making (e.g., exercise, organic diet, supplementing, etc.) is accepted and encouraged by the doctor.
6) Caring about the patient
A doctor who expresses compassion and empathy for the patient will usually find them more open to dialog about their situation. An empathetic display allows the subject to better accept the medical intervention and care being recommended for them.
7) Feedback from the patient
Patient needs or desires will often be communicated by the patient to the doctor. Depending on whether the patient perceives the doctor is acknowledging or understanding this feedback, this may affect the medical professional’s ability to communicate to them. If the patient does not feel he is being heard, this can lead to him feeling disrespected. If that happens, he may lose confidence in the doctor and in turn ignore the recommendations and instructions the doctor offers. It is important for doctors to listen carefully to the patient, as part of the communication process.
8) Improving lifestyle routines
Good communication is vital for the doctor to motivate the patient to consider adopting healthier lifestyle choices. Patients are not likely to make those changes if they do not understand the information the doctor provided, or were not impressed by the case doctor made for the changes.
9) Gaining trust with patients
Trust and loyalty is built with patients in large part due to the clarity of the explanations provided by a doctor who is trying to connect with each client. Trust in a relationship not only makes the parties involved more open to communication, but speeds up the degree and amount of dialogue. Doctors interested in long term relations with patients will seek to instill a lasting bond with each person in their care.
10) Cultural Awareness
Beyond personality and language factors, doctors working with a specific demographic group or range of ethnic communities should be aware of cultural dynamics. The attitudes and habits of a particular group may advance, or hinder patient relations. Members of some groups may be combative or present with more attitude, based on their general history. Others may have different ideas about proper medical follow-up, due to what they experienced in the “old country.” A doctor must discern how to engage these dynamics and distinctions in order to communicate to each group positively and effectively.
Content courtesy of Neches FCU, an Equal Employment Opportunity Employer.
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