Being a doctor is about more than healing people; it is also about understanding what your patients want from medical professionals and delivering an outstanding service. Some doctors are far better at this than others but there’s nothing they do that you can’t learn or achieve for yourself.
The key to becoming a better doctor is realizing that you can always learn something new. Starting with this short list of ideas will set you up for success.
A Professional Website and Marketing Literature
The first impression you make on your patients counts for a lot. A professional website with plenty of clearly written information is the first step to winning their trust and reassuring them that you are the right doctor for their needs.
Your marketing literature and overall strategy should reflect your professionalism and speak to your target audience. This means that you need to know who your services are for and what those patients are looking for in a doctor.
If a patient’s first impression is likely to be your website, their next impression is your office. A clean, bright office will always feel safer to a patient than a dark room and your interior should match the expectations set by your website and marketing materials.
Cleanliness is vital to proper medicine and as a doctor, you surely understand this! However, though your office might be clean, you also need to pay attention to the waiting room, corridors and other spaces such as restrooms. Regular and thorough cleaning is essential.
You should never underestimate the power of a good bedside manner. Patients are much more responsive to doctors who show them respect and keep them fully informed about their condition and the options available to them.
To improve your bedside manner, you should consider how it feels to know that something is wrong but not understand what or why. This is how most patients feel when they visit their doctor, which is why you need to explain everything in simple terms and be prepared to answer a lot of questions!
It goes without saying but let’s say it anyway: your patients will have Googled their condition and found out lots of irrelevant stuff! It’s your job to reassure them and present the evidence you have for your diagnosis.
Above all, you must show compassion for your patients while being completely open and honest with them.
One of the main complaints patients have with their doctor is that they didn’t listen to them properly and this may have meant that they couldn’t tell them about other symptoms or issues. Ultimately, the problem is that if a patient doesn’t believe that a doctor is listening, they may not feel safe because they don’t believe the doctor is acting in their best interest.
A major part of showing respect is listening carefully. Your patients will want to tell you absolutely everything and while some of the things they say might be medically irrelevant, showing an interest will put them at their ease and make your appointment much smoother. Some patients also like to talk as a way to stay calm through their appointment so if you are doing something that will take a minute, asking them a basic question about themselves might help.
You have made a great impression and you have shown compassion and listened well but if you fail to follow up, you may still lose the trust of your patients. Following up is essential if you want to check on your patient’s progress and see that they are okay. But following up is also about giving your patients a little extra information (such as any test results, even if they are negative) and showing them that you are still there for them. The doctors that go the extra mile always seem to have happier patients, more word of mouth, and as a result, tend to make more money as a doctor.
How you follow up might depend on the patient. So, you might prefer to call a patient if you need to have a discussion about their health but if you are simply passing on information, a text might be suitable. However you get in touch, you should always make sure that they know they can book in to see you if they encounter any further issues or have any concerns.
Some doctors are naturally gifted when it comes to dealing with patients but a good bedside manner and listening skills are definitely learnable. If you are concerned about how you come across, it’s a good idea to ask a friend to do some role play and give you some feedback!