There are few relationships more important than that between a doctor and their patient. Not only is this a professional relationship, but the patient is putting their health in the hands of someone else. Maintaining that bond is extremely important, but distressingly, there has been a recent decline in public trust in health care figures.
It is critical to build that trust up again, because not only will this help doctors communicate with their patients and boost public health, but there has been evidence of a link between trust in doctors and positive health care outcomes. There are some easy ways that you can show your patients that you value their trust, and both your business and your patients will reap the benefits.
Establish Trust Early On in the Relationship
That first meeting can be incredibly key to the tone of the relationship going forward, starting with simple things like how the appointment is made. If your office uses an impersonal setup for making appointments, it can be hard for a patient to invest in the doctor.
On the other hand, if the doctor checks in to verify any important information, this will give the clear impression of care and compassion. Similarly, it’s important that the doctor manage time well for the first appointment, so the patient feels their appointment is being respected. Both doctor and patient are starting from scratch in the relationship, so the little things matter.
Be Transparent and Honest With Your Patients
It can be tricky to balance honestly with breaking bad news to patients, but building an environment of trust requires openness. You don’t want to come across as overly negative, especially if you’re waiting for test results, but it’s best to share any concerns you might have early.
This is especially important if it’s something that the patient can personally affect, like changing their diet or switching medicine. A patient may not be happy to hear about a risk factor or a change in routine immediately, but it’s better to play it safe and warn them rather than taking the chance of an adverse health outcome down the line.
You’re likely going to encounter some patients with health habits that need improvement, but how you handle your advice may make a big difference. Advising a client to change their diet or quit smoking with harsh words may backfire, and you don’t know what each patient is dealing with behind closed doors.
You want to avoid a confrontational approach or anything that could be perceived as microaggressions, and instead focus on giving practical advice that can help them change their behavior patterns and mental processes. Finding out more about each patient can make this easier, and give your conversations with them a personal touch.
Invest in Your Clinic’s Resources
Technology is marching on, and understanding how to use it is a key part of developing trust with your patients. It’s important to make sure your staff including receptionists and nurses understand how to use the resources at your disposal, to make sure there is no break point where patients receive less-than-optimal care. One of the best ways to centralize this is to use an EHR system.
What is an EHR system in healthcare? It’s an electronic health record that puts all of a client’s information under one system and allows for it to be looked up in seconds or transferred to another physician. This is critically important when it comes to referring a patient to a specialist and getting the new doctor caught up on a complex health history in a hurry.
Respect Your Patients’ Privacy and Confidentiality
Especially with electronic health care records becoming a bigger part of healthcare, it’s important to understand how privacy is a key part of keeping a patient’s trust. You may be encountering patients who have family members trying to get ahold of their information, and it’s important to follow legal and ethical standards.
Doctors who violate patient confidentiality could face civil or professional consequences, but the more serious consequence may be to their reputation when word gets around. Patients entrust doctors with deeply personal information, and keeping it secure is one of the first duties of a physician.
Build and Maintain
Trust is the best way to maintain a relationship with your patients. A doctor needs an open and welcoming atmosphere for patients to feel safe sharing their health issues. An open, welcoming, and non-judgmental atmosphere is just the first step.
This includes being able to give advice without your patients feeling like they’re being lectured. It also includes secure and effective use of electronic health care records, and sensitive information being kept secure. Put together, this is the sum of a trustworthy medical professional.