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The Importance of Having Trust and Empathy with Your Patients

Kiltesh Patel
September 11, 2019

Good patient care consists of listening to, understanding, and then responding to your patients’ needs. For that process to even begin, your patients need to trust you.

Trust is not received, it is earned. While you might have the best Empathy and Trustclinical knowledge and skills, and even suggest the best treatment possible to your patients, without trust, your patients might still hesitate to move ahead. 

Why is it Important for Your Patients to Trust You?

When your patients trust you, they are likely to accept the treatment you suggest, come back to you for further treatments, and are unlikely to file a lawsuit against you. 

You would assume that all of your patients trust you because they are accepting your treatments. But, do they trust you enough? Well, the statistics tell a different story. In 2013, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that 32% of all Americans did not trust their physicians. Wouldn’t you agree that these are the patients most likely to switch their providers?

If you want to retain your patient base better, simply assuming that they trust you is not going to be enough. You have to actively put in the effort to learn the soft skills needed to improve the trust your patients have in you. Here are some helpful tips that will help you with that.

Be a Great Listener

One of the best things you can do to truly treat your patients is to lend them your ears. By being a great listener, you have the opportunity to not only learn what’s the matter with them but also what matters to them. The industry is called Healthcare for a reason.

There is plenty of evidence that shows a positive correlation between a patient’s satisfaction, and their provider’s willingness to communicate and empathize with them. By listening first and empathizing with your patient’s problems, you can not only develop trust but also their loyalty.

Get Your Team on the Same Page

Your patients will spend a lot of time interacting with your staff as well. That’s why it is important that they are good at their jobs, and they also have great interpersonal skills.

Encourage your staff to always greet the patient with a warm smile, and address them by their first name. When a patient walks in, they should always make a brief conversation, and then collect their insurance and other medical information.

If your PMS supports it, instruct your staff to send your patients smart-links so that your patients can fill in their information from the comfort of their homes.

Avoid Surprises Regarding Finances

Whenever you offer any financial quote to your patient, that becomes an anchor in their mind. Any major deviation from that anchor can cause discomfort, erode trust, and push the patient away. 

That is why, whenever you discuss any specifics of their treatment costs, remind them that quotes can change based on new information. Set expectations in a way that they do not consider their initial quote as final.

The same thing can happen with insurance payouts as well, and you can avoid this by checking their insurance before the treatment begins. If you aren’t able to do it, instruct and train your staff to do it. If your PMS supports it, they can run their insurance while they wait at the front desk.

Be Honest and Communicate Well

Honesty forms the basis of trust in any relationship. In the context of a patient-provider relationship, honesty means that you as the dentist recommend the best treatment plans, products, and care to your patients without personal or financial bias.

Excellent communication is also needed for your patients to perceive your honesty. Start by communicating in simple language—cut the jargon—your patients will appreciate it. 

The goal of communication is to empower your patients with the knowledge required to make an informed decision about their oral health. Make sure that you communicate with your patient during every step of the treatment process and keep them up to date. When your patients are fully informed, they will feel more confident in the treatment they are receiving and as a bonus, you will also feel productive and have more satisfaction in your work.

Conclusion

If your goal is to provide the best healthcare possible to your patients, then just having great clinical skills isn’t going to be enough. You will need to develop trust and empathy with your patiets and show that you truly care about their well being. Once your patients start trusting you, not only will you improve your business, but also feel a renewed satisfaction and fulfillment in your work.

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