Medical marketing may get you thinking about websites, social media and email campaigns, and while those are all important components, there’s no substitute for the power of a good doctor-patient relationship. Not only is a good doctor-patient relationship a good end in and of itself, it can also yield tangible benefits to your practice. Patients who have a good relationship with you will be more likely to refer you to friends and family. They will also be more likely to give you positive reviews online and to insurance companies, leading to more patients and cash bonuses for your practice.
Don’t let the computer in the exam room become a barrier to that integral one-on-one time with your patients. When it comes to both the room’s configuration and your interaction during the appointment, here are some strategies to ensure your time at the computer does not harm that essential rapport with your patients.
Configure for Common Experience. How is your exam room set up? If you have a computer and a computer desk, make sure it does not function as a physical barrier between you and your patient. If you have the computer screen facing so the screen is visible to you and to the patient, you can involve the patient in your data entry time if he/she can see what you are typing. Also make sure your configuration does not turn your back to your patient while you’re sitting at the computer.
Keep Some Time Screen-Free. It’s human nature to form impressions in the first moments of an interaction, especially when it’s something as sensitive as your health. Stay cognizant of this by keeping the first moments of the appointment focused on the patient. To avoid having to sit right down at the computer to access the patient’s record, pull it up before you enter the exam room, whether it’s a paper chart or logging in to a different computer. If you head straight for the computer when you walk into the exam room, the message you send your patient is one that comes off as impersonal and transactional.
When talking about something sensitive, keep that time technology-free, as well, and be sure to maintain eye contact.
Communicate While at the Computer. When you do need to sit down at the computer, help patients feel involved in the process by explaining what you are doing and why. This will increase understanding so your patients know how this is part of you taking care of them. As part of letting your patient know you are keeping their health information private, make sure your patient sees you log off.
MedPage Today recommends involving the patient even further by sending your patient this information, if they would like, via secure online messaging or even personal email. Just be sure you let your patient know what the security risks may be. If you’re worried about this violating HIPAA, MedPage Today says you shouldn’t be. The open lines of communication will help increase trust, and if your patients opt-in with awareness of any risks, then this is actually to your advantage.
The computer is a valuable tool for doctors, but be sure you don’t let it come between you and your patient. The relationship you have with your patients is the foundation of any medical marketing plan, and good relationships with your patients will lead to positive ripple effects for your practice in reviews, number of patients and your practice’s bottom line.
For more ideas about how you can foster good communication in the exam room, email firstname.lastname@example.org.