Let’s pretend that you’re the patient. Would you entrust your health to someone who doesn’t put an effort into getting to know you better? Would you want to build a rapport with a doctor who only wants your money and doesn’t care about whether or not you get well? Of course not! No one wants that. You would be much more likely to trust someone who truly cares about your well-being.
The same goes for your actual patients. They will likely open up more to you if you make them feel that you truly care about them and their well-being. Most people would prefer to keep sensitive information, such as their health problems, to themselves. That’s why it’s even more important that you’re the kind of doctor that they’d feel comfortable sharing things with. If that level of trust and familiarity is there, your patients will be more likely to confide in you and be open to share important information about their health and how they’re feeling.
Why Building Trust and Rapport for Your Patient is Important
Trust. It’s such an easy word to spell but very difficult to give. Why? Most people want their trust to be earned (which is completely normal). As for doctors, there are quite a few reasons why patients don’t trust you very easily. Here are a few:
- Although most doctors, such as yourself, truly care for their patients, there are some who use their medical degree simply to gain more money. For example, some doctors promote products that have no proven benefit. And they serve as an ambassador for the product just so they can get paid. Although the marketing strategy is commendable, as a doctor, you should test products first before promoting or handing them out to your patients. And because of this reason, people often tend to stereotype and not easily trust doctors.
- The government has imposed a lot of government-mandated healthcare paperwork that takes a huge toll on your physicians. Also, aside from providing patient care, you have to work on the business part of your medical practice. You have to make sure that your business sustains in the industry. Because of all the fuss caused by the paperwork, you may not provide as good of patient care as you should. For example, sometimes you have to look at your EHR when meeting with a patient. However, to a patient, the lack of eye contact may be a sign that you care more about the business side of your practice than their actual health. They don’t understand how much you dread doing this and that you really don’t have any choice. And if you don’t comply, you get penalized. However, your patient doesn’t know that so they may be viewing the scenario in a completely negative light.
- People tend to stereotype doctors because of numerous instances that doctors are involved in fraud and harassment. Some are even tagged as “pill mill” doctors. Although there are a lot of great doctors who have done nothing but provide good patient care, the media tends to focus more on the bad rather than the good. And that can put most doctors in a bad limelight.
The reasons stated above are just three out of a hundred reasons why patients don’t really trust healthcare professionals nowadays. With so much negative news about the healthcare industry these days, you really can’t blame patients if they are being extra careful and reserved.
Factors That Influence Trust In Healthcare Professionals
- Social Skills
- Showing Respect
In order to gain and/or maintain a patient’s trust, you have to assure them that you know what you’re doing. When it comes to their health, always assume that they’re very particular and thorough. They want to be taken care of by a doctor who knows what’s new in the healthcare industry. So, as a doctor, you should never stop learning. Gaining new knowledge from seminars and other medical events can help you grow your medical practice.
All healthcare professionals, especially doctors, should know how to effectively communicate with their patients. Communication is one of the key components that can make your patients stay loyal to you and even refer you to their family and friends.
All healthcare professionals should be honest. Just think about it, how can there be trust without honesty? Those two work side-by-side. When you’re honest with your patients, they will learn to trust you. It is essential that patients should are confident enough to say “I trust my doctor.” With trust comes great responsibilities. You have to live up to that. You should be able to politely tell the truth to your patients even if they don’t like what they’re hearing. You should be able to properly advise your patients and ensure that they believe that their health and wellness comes first. When your patients don’t feel that you’re being honest with them, they will not trust you and you will lose their respect.
It’s important for patients to trust that their doctor will not talk about their health to other people. A patient’s privacy and dignity is something you should respect as well. Respect begets respect. If there’s a breach in the patient’s confidentiality, it can not only do harm to them but you will also lose all respect and credibility from your patient and probably from other healthcare professionals as well. You could also lose your license and may face a lawsuit - yikes!
Trust can make your patients stay loyal to you, but respect can make a relationship last for a long time. Being a compassionate doctor, spending enough time with patients without making them feel like you’re in a rush, listening actively, and advising appropriate treatments in order to help a patient’s dilemma are the key elements to building a trusting, respectful relationship with your patients.
How You Can Build Trust With Your Patients
Online, you can…
- Communicate often with patients (patients use the internet as a primary means of communication, so communicate with them online on a regular basis)
- Provide useful content
- Be active on social media (82% of people trust a brand more if it has a social media presence - according to Forbes)
- Build or improve your online reputation
When your patient is in your medical clinic, you should…
- Express empathy
- Provide great care/patient experience & provide a consistent experience
- Be transparent
On That Note…
I understand that there’s a lot on your plate. Sometimes, it’s just really hard to manage everything that’s going on in your medical practice. However, it’s really important that you focus on building trust and a good rapport with your existing patients. One way to do that is to allow DrCatalyst, a leading practice management services provider, to handle some of your day-to-day tasks so that you can focus more on building a good relationship with your patients.