Connect (verb) 1. Link two things 2. Associate someone or something with another: to make a psychological or emotional association between people. As doctors, it is important that to make that emotional attachment with patients. It will not only be good for patients, it will be good for doctors’ wellbeing as well.
In Part 1 we discussed reasons for the decline in positive doctor/patient relationships and that research has shown that a person’s attitude can have an effect on their health. We also touched on the fact that the medical community is moving toward a more holistic approach to patient treatment.
Making the Connection
Noticing how a patient feels emotionally is an essential part of connecting with them. Patients want to trust and feel comfortable with their doctors. Acknowledging how a patient feels creates a strong connection.
Patients want and deserve a physician that will talk to them and explain their condition to them. Some patients are proactive when it comes to their treatment and will ask questions. Many other patients are intimidated and fail to actively participate in their care. It is up to the physician to let them know that it is okay to speak up and that no question is unimportant. Patients want to feel that they are valued and respected.
Most of all, patients want to feel as though you actually care about them and their health and that you aren’t thinking about how quickly you can get out of the examination room.
Empathy is the Key
Genuine empathy can help empower and engage patients. Empathy can help patients feel valued and respected and encourage them to become active participants in their own health and wellbeing. By listening and acknowledging their emotional state, doctors can engage their patients in a way that is mutually beneficial.
Connect on a Personal Level
Fifty to sixty years ago, everyone in the family saw the same doctor and he would know the family dynamics. These days, things are not as simple and in part, it is up to the physician to learn more about his patient beyond the fact that they are a body that has lower back pain or psoriasis. It is vital to see that body as a person. You can be certain that the patient will notice.
In this digital age, doctors have the opportunity to connect on a personal level with patients through the Internet. Connecting through social media builds on the relationship established in the exam room. Having the ability to engage a doctor and his staff through social media empowers them to be more proactive about their health care. A patient may be experiencing a health problem but isn’t sure it warrants taking time off of work to visit the office. In a case like this, they could simply send an email stating their concern and learn if a visit is needed. Interacting with the doctor’s office through the Internet will give the patient a feeling of connection and that their health care needs are being met.
Engaging and connecting with patients is important to patient health. Providing them with respect and compassion gives them the motivation to participate in their own health care decisions. Not only will patients become healthier and happier, doctors will also benefit by returning to the reason they became doctors in the first place.
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Published by Axiom Health Care Marketing