On a typical day, physicians get an average of 15 minutes to interact with each patient. Physicians feel pressured to see a certain number of patients daily, whether they are in hospitals or a private practice. The clock starts the moment the patient walks into the exam room. Under these circumstances, physicians are under considerable pressure both to serve their patients well and to make a quick diagnosis. Make the most of each encounter through effective doctor-patient communication, and you will find that your patients keep coming back!
Welcome Your New Patients.
New patients should feel comfortable and welcomed on their first visit to your practice. New patients should receive a welcome packet with a letter that introduces them to your practice and sets expectations for the level of care. If possible, give them a tour of your practice. Avoid paperwork hassles by sending them personal information forms via email prior to their appointment.
The moment you enter the room, you are communicating with your patient. Greet your patient with a pleasant smile, and address them either by their first or last name. If they have been waiting for a while, acknowledge it. People are quick to forgive when they understand the reason for your delay. Shake hands and sit down, preferably at eye-level, focusing on the patient rather than on the computer screen. This will help both of you to have an open communication.
Listening is the first and most important step to bond with your patients. Be empathetic and listen to your patients carefully. Study their nonverbal behavior – it speaks volumes. Show that you are listening by nodding, rephrasing their words, and encouraging them to go on. Sometimes asking many questions to determine what is wrong (and to save time) isn’t the best strategy. If you listen well, the patient might share information that will help you rule out 90% of potential diagnoses.
Patients will follow a physician’s advice more consistently when it is clear and specific. While you may wish to avoid long explanations that eat up precious time, you will be more effective in the long run when patients understand your instructions. Don’t compromise on the quality of communication to make it short.
Stay on track.
Strike balance between natural conversation and diagnostic work. Patients tend to open up to their doctors and speak about a wide variety of personal concerns. Engage in natural conversation for a few minutes, as it can help you learn more about your patient’s health concerns and contribute to creating the comfort zone. Then politely guide your patient back to the reason for the visit. Striking balance is the key.
Apply ‘B.A.T.H.E.’ Technique
Master the interviewing skills to get to the root of the problem in less time. B.A.T.H.E. technique, a psychotherapeutic intervention, can easily fit in your 15 minutes of patient time.
- Background queries – What happened?
- Affect queries – How it affected them?
- Trouble queries – What troubled them most?
- Handling queries– How they handled it so far?
- Empathy – Empathize at the end.
Organize Your Office
Take a walk around your practice to see if every system is organized. Ask for honest feedback from your staff and patients about the efficiency of your office. Make sure all your staff, from front desk to the nurse, are well-trained to ensure a smooth flow of a patient in and out of the exam room. Can basic tasks like gathering medical histories be done more efficiently? Are billing hassles interfering with other office tasks? Consider new organiational strategies that would save your time.
Today’s patients want to feel heard and valued. Following the outlined steps, you will be able to maximize not just your patient's first visit, but every single visit.
Practice Forces provides medical billing outsourcing services for clients around the country and has been partnering with physicians & practices to provide revenue cycle management, across all medical specialties. To consult regarding Meaningful Use Stage-3 rules, call us today for a FREE consultation at 866-634-6327 or, email us at [email protected].