In many instances, doctors are the comforting individuals for their patients. There might be numerous reasons why people choose to stick to one particular doctor, but the most prominent and primary reason is the bond that is formed and exists between doctor and patient. Cultivating a strong bond takes time and effort, and in this case, the onus falls upon the doctor to build and facilitate open communication with patients.

These 7 tips could make all the difference in the way your relationships with your patients evolve:

1. A warm and comforting introduction

Receive the patient with a smile, and introduce yourself, especially if he/she is not one of your usual patients. Get them to introduce themselves verbally to you, even though you might have their details. This first point of contact with a new patient is especially vital in forming the foundation of what could potentially be a long-term doctor-patient relationship.

2. Address patients by their names

Your patients are real people who have feelings and minds of their own. Recognizing them as individuals, and giving them due respect starts by addressing them by their names, instead of simply dismissing them as ‘Patient A’ or ‘Patient B’. As a doctor, when you make the effort to address them by their names, patients will inevitably relax, and be more forthcoming.

3. Listen

A mark of a good doctor is his or her ability to listen. This goes beyond simply taking patients for their word; good doctors are usually able to pick apart what their patients are trying to say in order to identify the root cause of the problem. Your patient could be going through a rough patch, and might need someone to talk to about it. So listen to and for the different things patients are trying to convey, and unwrap them one by one. Refrain from interrupting your patients unnecessarily, or rush them to tell you what is wrong. Doing so would sour any tentative start to your connection with the patient. You will naturally know what questions to ask once your patients has finished narrating his/her ailment.

4. Confidentiality

Doctor-patient privilege means upholding the highest standards of confidentiality. Whatever your patient might choose to share with you regarding his/her health has to be kept confidential. The responsibility to safeguard their trust is yours, and yours alone. The more you demonstrate that you are someone whom they can trust and rely upon, patients will be more willing to relax and talk in your presence.

5. Non-verbal cues

Never make your patients feel that you are grossed out or disgusted by anything that they tell you. This means not expressing any of your personal feelings about their ailment through both verbal and non-verbal cues. Non-verbal cues includes things like your body language, facial expressions etc. If your face or body gives off the impression that you are not interested, or that you are being rude, that patient is probably going to shut down on you, and may never come back; and you lose a chance to actually make a difference in alleviating the person’s condition. Remember how you act and react towards your patient is a reflection of how your work will be like.

6. Positivity

Your patients will look towards you for confidence or any bit of hope regarding their prognosis. You have to try to instill a realistic level of hope and confidence, and that will make them more amenable towards various treatment options. Most of a patient’s recovery is dependent on his/her mental and emotional state. A positive mind set does play a part in facilitating a proper recovery.

7. Follow up

A patient’s first visit should not be the end of it, especially if you are dealing with conditions that require monitoring over a period of time. Firmly advise such patients to book another appointment, or fix a follow-up appointment with the patient immediately. This will show the patient that you are committed to his/her recovery, and thus the patient will be more inclined to show up for the follow-up. MIMS

Read More:
1. Wake up, doctors: Dispelling physicians' misconceptions about sleep
2. Delivering bad news to a patient
3. The world outside regular doctoring