Taking Time with Patients: Perception is Reality

There’s an expression that says, “You can give a pound of gold in a one-ounce bag.” When it comes to your patients, this refers to the perception they have about the time you spend with them. Two physicians can spend the same amount of time with two patients and one can come away dissatisfied, feeling they were rushed while the other believes the doctor took his or her time and heard what the patient had to say. What makes the difference? Here are some simple techniques to connect better with patients and help them feel that your energy and focus is squarely on them during the office visit:

  • Make a lasting impact in the first 30 seconds. As you enter the examination room make eye contact with the patient, shake hands and smile. Sounds simple but those three actions form an immediate, warm connection with the patient. This is the same whether it’s a new patient or one you just saw two weeks ago.
  • Get in touch. Study after study has proven that human touch translates into compassion. As you begin to speak to your patient, put your hands on their feet.
  • Make each patient feel important. Your patients will feel acknowledged and valued if you make an effort to focus on their needs beyond their podiatric condition. Ask about their family or comment on a piece of jewelry they are wearing. Keep your question or comment specific and not too open-ended.
  • Let the patient be heard. When you first ask about what has brought the patient in, let them speak uninterrupted and get it all out. This takes most patients a surprisingly short amount of time. If you stop them, however, with a question the patient will feel like you’re rushing through the visit.
  • Answer all questions. Tell your patient up front that you will answer all their questions about their condition and treatment before they leave. Once you have diagnosed and explained best treatment options, end the appointment by asking if your patient has any questions and also tell them the best way to contact you if they think of other questions after they leave the office.

Establishing and maintaining warm connections with patients is something experienced practitioners know how to do. At The Institute for Podiatric Excellence and Development (IPED), allowing physicians at all stages of their careers to share and hear secrets of success is one of our key objectives. To learn other benefits to becoming a member, contact Executive Director, Ruth Ann Donahue at: 978-296-7634.