Bedside manner plays a significant role in a patient’s overall healthcare experience. Good bedside manner can lead to higher satisfaction scores, a stronger patient-provider relationship and can lower the likelihood of a medical malpractice claim. Here are 5 simple ways to strengthen your relationship with patients and improve your bedside manner:
1. Use Their Name: Using a patient’s name shows that you see them as an individual, and that you care enough to know who they are. It encourages them to be a part of the conversation about their health and helps build rapport. And if you don’t know how to pronounce their name – just ask! Showing your “humanness” can make you more relatable.
2. Introduce Yourself + Explain Your Role: When meeting a patient for the first time, be sure to introduce yourself and explain your role in their care. Take time to share how you’ll be working within the healthcare team so they know what to expect during the course of their treatment. If you are a specialist who is brought in for a consultation, it’s important that this is expressed to the patient so they do not feel abandoned or insignificant if you don’t visit them again.
3. Sit Down + Be Cognizant of Body Language: Sitting down next to a patient builds more connection. Instead of towering over them, it demonstrates that you are working “with” them and helps them feel valued and appreciated. Avoid defensive poses such as crossing your arms or giving the impression of being rushed (checking your watch or pager frequently). Being relaxed and confident in your body language will help the patient feel more relaxed and confident.
4. Show Empathy + Listen: Taking a few extra minutes to get to know your patient helps form a better patient-provider bond. Listen for clues about their life and comment on them. For example, if your patient mentions plans for an upcoming vacation, say, “Tell me about your trip, that must be so exciting.” Seems simple but it’s impactful… and it’s another way to show your patients that you really care. When patients trust their providers and feel like they are heard, they are more willing to openly discuss an issue and they tend to feel happier and more understood.
5. Offer Reassurance: Put yourself in your patient’s shoes. What might be a routine diagnosis for you could be a life-changing event for them. Be patient, observe their reaction and be available to answer questions ongoingly. If a patient mentions being worried about a procedure, use statements such as “I understand this must be scary for you.” Then offer reassurance and partnership statements such as “I am here for you” or “I will be with you every step of the way”.