Why Building Patient Rapport Is Critical

Believe it or not, when it comes to building patient rapport, your reputation is on the line every minute.

Building patient rapport is critical.  Why?  It's a matter of survival.  When I mention survival, I mean that if people can't trust you then your toast.  You might as well say,"goodbye" to your practice.

Here's why you should take this serious.

If you build a relationship with trust, people will return to you.

But if you fail to build trust, then everything can crumble.  Therefore, building patient rapport is imperative for your business.

Take this example from Karen J. Lazar, Ph.D., a clinical health psychologist and psychoanalyst practicing in Livingston and Morristown, N.J, that examines patient-doctor relationships.  Dr. Lazar studies how patient and doctor interactions are in compliance.  Lazar also tries to increase positive communication between patients and doctors.

Lazar explains a story that one day a woman afflicted from an illness goes into see the doctor one day and she's crying while explaining her pain.  The doctor doesn't even notice how much pain the woman has because he's busy talking like nothing happened.  Furthermore, the doctor fails to acknowledge that she's upset at all.

Have you ever felt like you were invisible?

Lazar mentions the doctor's attitude is perceived as unsympathetic as if the patient's feelings were not important.  Lazar goes on to mention that failing to build a warm camaraderie results in the patient's inability to cooperate and follow the doctor's recommendations.

Wow! I was deeply affected by that story.  Now, I remember a time when I did not want to follow the doctor's advice at one point in my life.

For example, I saw an internist for my digestive issues and no matter what I did, the pain did not go away.  The doctor looked at me like I was crazy.  Instead, he thought I was depressed and wanted to prescribe me some anti-depressants for my pain.

He totally missed diagnosed me as if I was just another statistic.

I felt as if he didn't care and I was irrelevant to him.  I remember telling the doctor, "you're not going to run some tests?"  He said, "no I don't think that's necessary."  I was like is this guy for real.  I walked away so upset that I didn't trust any doctor.

Now I can see how important building trust with a patient is.  Transparency is one of my highest values on my list, next to picking any product, service, friend or mate.

Olsen says, "Don't be a dictator.  The mentality of I'm the doctor is dead.  Encourage the patient to be agents of change to their own  treatment."

Building patient rapport will take time

Lets face it, building trust between patients will take time.  People won't immediately trust you on the first visit.  The special bond and communication over a long period time will pay off in the long run, I promise.

Just like with anyone, a patient needs to know you understand their illness and have a sense of connection.  You can just tell if someone is interested in you or not.  If the nurse seems kind of cold or abrupt, then you know there's not going to be a relationship there.  However, if you're warm, friendly and really take the time to know the patient, you will build a long lasting relationship for the patient and your practice.

An easy dialog, such as "Can you tell me how you feel today?" or "Can you describe how you're feeling?" can make a huge difference.

Thus, listening to patients even though it's not related to the issue can go a long way.

Lots of times people want to make small talk about their family or pets.  This is one way to break the ice to get to know someone.

For instance, Mrs. Jones would tell you about how close she is with her dog Fred.  They go walking in the park every week to get exercise.

I personally love it when people tell me about their pets because it almost feels like their a close friend they can rely on.

I would also go by the golden rule.  "Do onto you like you would with others."

Treat the other person like you would want to be treated.

Therefore, by treating people with respect and kindness can reciprocate the exact same thing in return.

What Building Patient Rapport really means?

According to Lazar, building rapport really means listening to what the patient is telling you and understanding the emotional implications involved.

It appears to me that listening and understanding the patient is the two most important things to building rapport with someone.

Jill Sumfest, M.D., South Florida market medical officer for Humana claims, "the time you spend with a patient and how you communicate with the patient and the family is important in terms of establishing a relationship based on trust and respect."

Without listening to the patient, you won't have a clue about their illness and cannot treat any of their symptoms.

Loren A. Olsen M.D., Board Certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology has been practicing over 30 years claims that you need to approach the patient as if you're a coach that has a team effort to curing the person.  He claims to ask for collaboration like a coach that is on their side.  Olsen says, "Don't be a dictator.  The mentality of I'm the doctor is dead.  Encourage the patient to be agents of change to their own treatment."

I really like Olson's idea of using the team approach.  It empowers the patient to be involved in their own treatment as well.  Not only he's agreeing to work with the patient, but with other doctors and his staff too.

Building Rapport with Staff

Building rapport with your staff in a kind and respectful manner without being dismissive is very imperative to work together as a team.  Much like patients, staff need to be respected as well.  After all, everything goes smoothly when everyone works together.

Imagine if you are abrupt and obnoxious to your nurses.  Your staff will not cooperative when you ask for their help when you will desperately need it one day.

Besides if you are nice to your receptionist, nurses and doctors, communication and trust will be seen throughout your medical practice.  Employees tend to stick around for a boss that is respectful and will go the extra for mile for you even when you don't expect it.  Moreover, patients that see your kind behavior tell other friends and family to see you because of your kind personality.  This is great because this is free advertising for your practice.

So please, if you want to build a successful medical practice:

  •  Listen carefully to your patients
  • Be empathetic
  • Be understanding
  • Don't be dismissive
  • Show respect always

Remember building patient rapport is the number one strategy to making you a success.

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I would love to hear your feedback.  Which of these strategies are you willing to implement today?  Leave me a comment below or email me your questions at r.reyes@waetechsolutions.com