To most patients, medical jargon can sound like a foreign language. For this reason, open communication between the doctor and patient is essential to the patient's understanding of their situation. Misunderstandings from either side can result in mistakes that hurt a patient's physical or mental health. Doctors and patients, then, have a common responsibility to make sure they communicate and understand one another as clearly as possible. By following a few simple steps, doctors and patients can strengthen their relationship and ensure that important information is communicated in an effective manner.
Make Eye Contact and Practice Active Listening
For patients, practicing active listening and asking thoughtful, open-ended questions are two of the most effective ways they can communicate with their doctor. Too often, patients allow important information or advice slip by without asking necessary questions. It may be intimidating or embarrassing to ask questions, but the reality is that a doctor may be able to explain something in a slightly different manner that opens up insights for the patient's understanding. If patients have strong eye contact and are willing to ask questions, it shows the doctor that they care about their treatment, which in turn, allows the doctor to invest more into the relationship.
From the doctor's point of view, they need to be sure they are always keeping strong eye contact with the patient to increase non-verbal communication. While the doctor may not even know it, looking a patient in the eye while explaining a diagnosis or treatment plan actually emits non-verbal cues that show their patient they care. By responding to patient questions with thoughtful, easy-to-understand answers, communication becomes stronger and the patient knows they are being cared for with the utmost attention.
Use Technology Wisely
Technological advances have done wonders for the medical fields, and many modern operations could not exist without some of the innovative advances in medical technology. However, there are both effective and ineffective ways to use technology when communicating with a patient. Mobile technologies like iPads or laptops are excellent for showing a patient a diagram or chart. Visual information can often say more than words, and may actually be a stronger way to communicate a concept that is difficult to put into plain terms. However, reading off of an iPad or electronic device while giving a patient a treatment plan may come off as cold or distant, so the doctor needs to make sure he or she combines the screen time with true, one-on-one conversation with the patient.
Likewise, patients need to put away their electronic devices when having a conversation with their doctor. Unless they are using their tablet or mobile device to take notes, their full attention should be on the doctor and the information the doctor is communicating. While keeping in touch with friends and family is certainly important to a patient's recovery, those conversations aren't nearly as vital as the ones with their doctor.
There's a Time and a Place
As we all know, conversations in a hospital room or doctor's office may bring bad news. Sometimes, silence can be the best form of communication, so neither the doctor nor the patient should feel like they need to say something when bad news is broken. Rather, let the moment of emotion pass and the patient gather themselves. Once the patient is in the right frame of mind to clearly communicate, then the doctor can offer possible treatments or explain their next step. The patient, too, will be able to ask the important questions that are on his or her mind without being distracted by an onslaught of emotion.
For occasions when the doctor doesn't have to break bad news, they should still be aware of a patient's condition before trying to communicate. When a patient is in a lot of pain, it can be very difficult to stay focused on a conversation. So, it's important for the patient to be forthcoming with their current condition and inform the doctor if they don't feel capable of effectively communicating. Sometimes all it takes is a fifteen minute rest for the patient to feel better and begin a strong dialogue with their doctor.
Peg Smith is an experienced writer who has written for a number of notable publications. As a lifestyle expert, Ms. Smith is able to offer advice and insight on a multitude of topics, including those pertaining to physician relations.
Peg Smith is an experienced writer who has written for a number of notable publications. As a lifestyle expert, Ms. Smith is able to offer advice and insight on a multitude of topics, including those pertaining to physician relations. http://www.lsiphysicianrelations.com/
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Peg Smith is an experienced writer who has written for a number of notable publications. As a lifestyle expert, Ms. Smith is able to offer advice and insight on a multitude of topics, including those pertaining to www.lsiphysicianrelations.com/" target="_blank">physician relations.
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