Improving Communication With Your Patients

Has this scenario ever played out in your office? A patient comes in with a specific condition that requires treatment. You explain the treatment plan and its benefits. The patient appears to hear you but in the end is indecisive and leaves your office to “think about it.”

What Went Wrong?

Sometimes, as physicians, we fail to realize how our patients are perceiving our message. Patients are looking to podiatrists to help them gain relief from a painful or disabling condition and we need to inspire confidence. Vague responses to patient’s questions will lead to a murky understanding of the explanation of treatment being suggested. This in turn leads to doubt in the patient’s mind and a sense of uncertainty about the best course of action.

Words With Power

As practioners we need to work at communicating more effectively with our patients. In part, this means being concise and direct about the patient’s condition, its causes and the best treatment options. However, we can start to improve patient treatment outcomes simply by using certain, single words that carry the power to persuade. These words include:

  • “important”

  • “critical”

  • “very important”

  • “necessary” 

  • “significant” 

  • “vital” 

  • “essential”

  • “you need”

Conversely, there are certain words to avoid when discussing treatment plans with your patients:

  • “we can’t”

  • “maybe”

  • “probably”

  • “possibly”

  • “perhaps”

  • “most likely”

  • “likely”

How well you communicate affects how your patients relate to you and how likely they are to agree to treatment and continue to trust you with the care of their feet.

At The Institute for Podiatric Excellence and Development, we know that veteran practioners have valuable experience to share about patient care and communication that can benefit those that are new to the field. That’s why our mission is to bring together practioners at every stage from student to veterans to exchange ideas that will help improve our field and the outcomes for our patients. To learn more about membership benefits, contact our Executive Director, Ruth Ann Donahue at info@podiatricexcellence.org.