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Physician-Patient Communication

Your thoroughness in explaining the patient’s illness and treatment plan is one way ofdemonstrating your knowledge and your personal concern. Whenever possible, take timewith patients because patients that leave your office with unanswered questions are morelikely to be dissatisfied with the service received, even if their condition improves. Whencommunicating with patients try to maintain eye contact and listen carefully to what theyhave to say. When you explain diagnoses and treatment plans talk in laymen’s terms sopatients can understand what you are saying. If you are concerned about the perceptionthat you are rushing too much, you might consider asking your staff to help you identifythese situations. This is helpful when dealing with patients that do not ask questionsbecause they believe they would be imposing on your busy schedule.

If you are treating a patient with a chronic disease, you can provide them witheducational materials related to their illness and treatment options at the end of officevisits. This will reinforce that you want to work collaboratively with them and care abouttheir recovery. For some practices, providing patient education is an important part oftreatment so their reception area, examination rooms, and practice website are vehiclesthat are used to communicate the practice’s commitment to disease prevention and healthpromotion.

A practice newsletter is an excellent way to provide information and news about variousillnesses, treatments and disease prevention tips that are of particular importance to yourpatients and their families. It is also a good way to inform patients about changes in thepractice, such as new staff, and events that affect the services of the practice. Each timethe newsletter is mailed to patients, the name of the practice gains greater visibility. Ifyour practice collects patient email addresses, send the newsletter via email. If you havea website, also consider sending a message to all of your patients with a link to the mostcurrent newsletter that has been posted online. This will increase the likelihood thatpatients will visit your website and discover something new about your practice. Youmay also be surprised to learn that existing patients are sharing your newsletter withfamily and friends that could become new patients.

Take every opportunity to send personal communications to your patients, especiallypromptly notifying patients of test results, even if they are normal. Other ideas forpersonal communications include: sending birthday cards to established patients, mailingwelcome letters to new patients that include a brochure about the practice, sendingfollow-up notes to remind patients of the need for physicals, immunizations or checkups,and sending thank you notes whenever a patient refers a friend or family member to you.


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