According to the World Health Organization, Ireland’s health spending is 8.9% of its gross domestic product. And that money is being well spent since 83% of Irish citizens perceive their health as good or very good. That’s the highest in the EU.
But these statistics don’t make it any easier or less stressful for a patient to go see their doctor. Whether they’re going for a check-up or there’s something more serious going on, seeing a doctor doesn’t fill most people with excitement.
If you’re working at or running an Ireland family practice, you’re running a business. And part of doing business is maintaining good customer service.
It’s difficult to help anyone if your patients are too terrified to come or walk away angry or scared due to how they were treated at your practice. That’s why bedside manners are a must.
Keep reading to learn more about how and why a good bedside manner is an important key to running a successful practice.
Why a Good Bedside Manner is Important When Running an Ireland Family Practice
While a family doctor’s primary goals are to heal the sick and prevent illness, it’s hard to attract or keep patients when no one likes or trusts you or your staff. When a patient sees a doctor who is friendly and attentive, it makes all the difference.
Patients Receive Better Care
Running a practice is hard work. But if you’re not taking the time to learn about each patient’s individual needs, patients are less likely to follow medical advice.
They’re also less likely to like or trust you. Which means they won’t communicate with you and that can mean a missed or wrong diagnosis.
Your bedside manner has a bigger impact on patient outcomes than you may realize. When you’re more engaged and demonstrate empathy by actively listening and developing a positive rapport with patients, they’re more likely to share their challenges and concerns with you.
You can then gain a better understanding of your patient’s needs. The results are better communication and better overall care.
You’re Viewed as a Better Doctor
A patient’s chart can only reveal so much. Often, it’s taking the time to communicate and listen is what leads you to provide better care for your patients such as:
- Gaining a more holistic understanding of patients
- Finding better ways to deliver tough news
- Decide which information will best motivate patients
Listening enables you to gain additional insights that are not possible otherwise. And that translates into your patients viewing you as providing them with a higher quality of medical care.
Allows Patients and Their Family Members a Chance to Feel Heard
As a family physician, you treat kids and their parents. Parents know their child’s normal behaviour better than the medical staff.
Part of being a good family doctor is taking into account the concerns of other family members. If the parent feels disconnected, it could lead to larger issues in the future.
Keeps the Attention on Patient Care
Especially if a patient or family member feels they aren’t being heard. That could lead them doing online research in order to prove a provider wrong.
Doing so can not only take attention away from the patient but may lead a patient to follow bad medical advice.
Keeps Your Practice in Business
Whether you like it or not, your family medical practice is a business. And 67% of customers have become “serial switchers” just because of bad customer service.
Here are the main reasons why:
- They don’t feel appreciated
- They can’t speak to someone who can give them the answers they need/want
- Rude and unhelpful staff members
- Being passed around to multiple people
- Forced to wait for unreasonable lengths of time
And if a patient experiences bad customer service at your office, 39% won’t come back. 35% will complain via a letter or email.
A Good Bedside Manner is Good for Business
But 86% stated that if there was an emotional connection between them and those they encountered at the place of business, they would be willing to continue coming back.
And remember, if you’re a family doctor, it’s rarely just one patient you lose due to a bad bedside manner, it could be generations of a family you lose.
How to Improve Your Bedside Manner as a General Practice Doctor
Fortunately, there are ways to improve your bedside manner.
Call Them by Their Name
A doctor has much more intimate encounters with their patients than most other businesses. Which is why learning and using their names is so important.
People like it when you use their name and it personalizes the experience. The patient now feels as though you see them as a person rather than a statistic.
And it empowers patients to be part of the conversation about their own health.
Learn the Names of Family and Caregivers
If a patient comes in with a caregiver or family member, learn their name as well. Invite them to be part of the conversation by asking questions such as “What brings you here?”
A patient may forget to add an important detail but if a caregiver or family member feel you want to hear from them, they may feel more comfortable speaking up and providing you with pertinent information about the patient’s health.
Whether you’re the physician, nurse or even the medical assistant, introduce yourself. Let your patients know who you are and why you’re there.
This helps them to remember your name. When they know who you are, patients are more likely to engage with and trust you.
Listen Without Interruption
While it may be hard at first, always let the patient speak for at least one minute before you begin asking questions or even trying to form a diagnosis.
You may be surprised at what additional information a patient provides you with just because you let them speak.
Respond With Empathy
While it may seem easier to focus on the clinical side of patient care, showing empathy is vital to your practice. Don’t forget to respond to a patient’s emotional statement using language.
If a patient mentions they are feeling scared, sad or frustrated, it’s easy to respond with statements such as “I understand this must be scary for you”.
It’s Okay to Admit to Needing to Do More Research
Patients understand that doctors are human too. No one expects you to know everything about everything.
While a patient does expect a certain level of expertise, it’s perfectly okay to let your patients know that you need more time to research the right answers and the best options for them.
This shows that you’re invested in the patient having the best outcome possible. And that instils your patients with confidence.
Become Their Partner
Sometimes doctors forget they’re treating a human and not a machine. And the nice thing about humans is they can tell you where it hurts.
It’s also important to remember that no two patients are alike. A solution for one patient may not work as effectively as it will for another.
This is why you should think of the relationship between you and your patients as a partnership. Letting patients know you’re there for them every step of the way helps them feel as though they’re not alone, no matter what they’re prognosis is.
Keep Patients Informed
There’s nothing more frightening to a patient than having no idea what’s happening to them. Even if a medical procedure seems routine to you, it may not be to the patient.
Educating your patients on their own health helps boost patient retention. You can even give patients a checklist to help them prepare for surgical procedures, plan ahead, and help them understand what their recovery will involve.
And don’t underplay a procedure. There’s nothing worse than a doctor telling a patient “This will only hurt a little bit” and the patient finding out it hurts a lot. That’s a great way to lose a patient’s trust.
While the internet allows patients to become their own doctor, there are good and bad sides to having access to that information. A patient may try to self-diagnose themselves incorrectly.
And it can feel frustrating to doctors to have patients pretend they’re doctors. But then again, a patient knows their body best.
Letting them explain their symptoms and talk about what they think may be without being interrupted or worse, being patronized, makes them feel valued and respected.
Follow Up After Treatment
Often, it’s the little things that matter the most in relationships. Following up with a quick phone call the day after a procedure to see how a patient is doing takes only a few minutes of your time.
But to a patient, it makes them feel as though you truly care about their well-being rather than a number. And a patient is more likely to remain loyal while referring new patients to your practice.
Find Work in Ireland
While the Irish people may be healthy, they are suffering from a shortage of doctors. If you’ve been thinking of working at an Ireland family practice, we can help.
All you have to do is upload your c.v. and we’ll do the rest. Click here to get started.