Building a friendly, warm relationship with your patients is well worth the time.
by Kathy Everitt, Senior Risk Management Consultant in Practice Procedures on Friday, October 18, 2019
Building rapport with a patient can go a long way towards mitigating a potential claim – people are less likely to make claims against providers they like. Additionally, patients are more likely to follow through with treatment plans presented by providers they know and trust.
During assessments, we talk about the importance of staff identifying themselves and their position when they answer the phone, and wearing name tags when they have contact with patients. These small incidental efforts are a means of connecting. However, a huge missing piece is that you, the doctor, should also introduce (or reintroduce yourself) when a patient comes to your office.
I recently visited a specialty practice as a patient. Although I have been to the practice one other time, it has been a number of years. When I signed in, the receptionist did not welcome me or give her name. The staff member who took me back to the exam room did not introduce herself. She only indicated the location of magazines I could read during my wait. When the provider came in, he also neglected to introduce himself – just jumped right in to discuss the reason I was there. In fact, I did not know which member of the multi practitioner group he was until the receptionist offered his business card at the end of my appointment.
Is this how your practice operates?
The Patient Experience
Practices are very busy and schedules can be tight. But how long does it take to simply extend your hand and say, “Hello, it’s good to see you (again)! I’m Dr. Welter. How can I help?” or for your receptionist to say something like, “Allison will take you back shortly.” The assistant can then introduce herself with a friendly, “I’m Allison, Dr. Welter’s assistant. Let’s go back to the exam room.” All of these brief but warm introductions can be made during the course of the visit without adding extra time to the schedule.
Develop a critical eye and try to see what your patients see when they come in. Is your practice welcoming and friendly, staffed by individuals who care about them and their care? Would the way they’re treated encourage the patient to refer you to their friends? If your patients come via referral from colleagues, keep in mind there is a good chance the patient will be telling the referring provider about their experience at your practice.
Looking for ways to build a friendly, warm relationship with your patients is well worth the time. Done right, the effort is small but the impact is big.