As a physician, you’re most likely aware of bedside manner. However, while it’s one thing to acknowledge what bedside manner is, many fail to realize just how important your treatment towards a patient is. When asked about the most important factor in distinguishing a high-quality physician, 59 percent of Americans focus on physician-patient relationships and personality, according to a recent study by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. On the other hand, just 11 percent of Americans place heavy value on a physician’s ability to accurately diagnose and fix a problem. While this does seem startling, it just goes to show how much your demeanor and interaction has an impact on the patient’s impression of you and their treatment’s success. According to a 2014 analysis of 13 clinical studies, a positive doctor-patient relationship can have statistically significant effects on “hard health outcomes.” This includes obesity, diabetes, hypertension, asthma, pulmonary infections and osteoarthritis pain. Luckily, below are just a few tips for improving bedside manner to consider.
Tips For Improving Bedside Manner
First impressions are huge when forming a doctor-patient relationship. Take the time to introduce yourself to your patients. Research from John Hopkins found that only 10 percent of patients could name the doctor who provided care for them during their stay in a hospital. The data indicated this was due to lack of proper introductions. Make sure that your patient can put a name to a face. It might even be helpful to have pictures posted in your patient’s room with the person who will be taking care of them. When it comes to tips for improving bedside manner, first impressions really count. Make the most of them.
Most of these tips for improving bedside manner are going to sound like common sense. Sadly, many healthcare professionals fail to realize what it takes. It’s important to listen to your patient. This means avoiding simultaneously filling out forms or answering the phone while talking with them. If necessary, ask your patient to wait five minutes while you finish what you are doing. This way you have time to deal with their query properly. Listening will make your patients feel like a person instead of just another problem. Although we know that you’re the expert in the field, listening to patients could shed light on a larger problem that you might have overlooked.
Health professionals are used to dealing with embarrassing medical problems on a daily basis. As a result, they can easily forget how uncomfortable it can be for the patient to talk about certain conditions. Offer a private consultation area if someone is asking for advice about a sensitive issue. It’s also important to read your patient. If they have trouble speaking clearly, making eye contact, or are hesitant to discuss the issue, they might be embarrassed about the situation. If this is the case, make sure that you’re doing everything you can to remind them that they’re in a discreet, non-judgmental setting.
One of the biggest tips for improving bedside manner is practicing empathy. Empathy isn’t just about listening to a patient. Empathy is about showing them that you truly care and understand what they’re going through. What might be a routine diagnosis to you could be a life-changing event for your patient. Take the time to observe the patient’s reaction and be available to answer any questions or concerns, including deeper implications the patient may be trying to process. Even if you’ve heard the question hundreds of times before, that doesn’t mean it’s not a real concern in someone else’s eyes. A blunt answer or nonchalant attitude could be devastating to a patient. Practicing empathy will put a patient’s mind at ease and build a stronger bond between both of you.
Hopefully, these tips will help improve your bedside manner. As always, if you’re looking for a change of scenery, check out the thousands of positions we have available on our “jobs” page.