The relationship between a dentist and a patient is still the keystone to oral care. It is the medium through which data is collected, diagnoses are made and healing and patient supports are provided. Medical practitioners are usually encouraged to adopt a patient-care oriented approach to guarantee delivery of adequate health services. Unfortunately, some patients are labeled as difficult, yet professionals must handle them in the most professional way. While dealing with such patients is not a walk in the park, it is nevertheless achievable. Below are some of the tricks that dentists may employ to improve relationships with their patients.
Empathy is a critical ingredient in communication. It entails placing yourself in the shoes of the patient and experiencing their world as if it were your own. Two things will be accomplished when you do this – the formation of a caring dentist-patient relationship, and a positive physiological outcome. Patients dealing with empathetic doctors heal much faster compared to the ones being treated by the less empathetic. A research study published by Center for Advancing Health confirmed that patients who enjoy great relationships with their doctors tend to be more involved in their health care, and as such, recover much sooner.
Learn to Smile
Dr. Boima believes that in as much as medicine is a serious business, and that doctors are serious and busy individuals, they miss out on something extremely powerful – smiling. Apart from smiling, dentists should try to throw in some humor to help build a rapport with their patients. Besides, a smile goes a long way in relieving tension, promoting healing, and most importantly, it provides an acceptable platform for venting out frustrations. Establishment of rapport takes place within the first few minutes of consultation. This time is usually spent trying to build a connection with the patient and precedes record opening. Dedicate the first few minutes of interaction trying to socialize with the patients as it yields higher levels of patient satisfaction.
Sharpen Your Listening and Counseling Skills
The ability to gather information relating to the context of the patient’s visit is largely dependent on your listening and counseling skills. The BATHE technique (Background, Affect, Trouble, Handling, Empathy) comes in handy during this session.
According to AAFP, a doctor should aim to determine the following:
– What is happening in the life of the patient (Background)
– How the situation affects the patient (Affect)
– The most disturbing part of the problem (Trouble)
– How the patient is managing the situation (Handling)
– Show the patient that you understand what they are going through (Empathy)
Showing empathy, creating a friendly environment for the patient, and exhibiting stellar listening and counseling skills will make you a personal favorite of many patients. Whether you are working as one of the periodontal specialists, or in another field of medicine, you cannot downplay the importance of having a great relationship with your patients. It is not only fulfilling, but it also presents an incredible way of impacting their health positively.
Article contributed by Kara Masterson