doctor and female patientTransitioning to a private practice gives you a great deal of control and flexibility over many aspects of your practice. To keep your patients onboard with the changes you are making, you need to open up the lines of communication. Whether you are slowly making the transition or are considering it, here are some ways to improve communication.

Environment

During the transition, you may be tempted to focus on creating an environment that you want. But, you have to remember that your patients are an integral part of your practice, regardless of whether it is public or private. Therefore, your environment should be designed with them in mind. The environment should be warm and inviting to encourage your patients to want to spend time there. Neutral colors should be used to improve the mood and atmosphere as well.

Professionalism and Courtesy

Your staff need to be trained to perform their roles in a professional yet courteous manner. Patients can be very temperamental, and when your staff treats them in a cold, dismissive or indifferent way, this can severely damage the rapport you have with your patients. Your staff should be kind, helpful, open, warm and courteous to encourage your patients to relax and open up with their health care providers.

Availability

You may gain more control over your schedule in a private practice, but that doesn’t mean that you should not arrange your availability around the needs of your patients. One big challenge in getting patients to communicate is to get them in the door. Once you have accomplished getting your patients in the door then your chances of getting them to be open and responsive increases significantly. Your availability should be arranged so that patients can have access to you when it is convenient.

Consistency

Trust and respect are vital components that need to be in place when communicating with patients. Without them, you will have an extremely challenging time getting your patients to talk to you. It is a good idea to develop a consistent and effective approach to meeting, greeting, and treating your patients. This consistent approach needs to be undertaken by every professional in your private practice. Consistency opens the door to trust, respect and communication so that you can further enhance the value of your relationship with your patients.

Communication Tools

According to a study done by the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, one of the easiest ways for a doctor to enhance communication between themselves and their patients is through the use of modern communication tools. While it is still possible to reach patients over the phone, many would prefer to communicate electronically by email. Email communication is not only more convenient, but it gives patients more flexibility over how and when they respond. It also reduces the amount of follow up expense for your practice by reducing the need for cold calling.

Effective Health Management System

With the transition to electronic health records well underway, the last thing you should be dealing with is paper records. The right software can effectively and efficiently handle all of your billing and healthcare records management needs. This will improve the quality of care and communication that your office delivers.

Surveys and Feedback

Regardless of the scope of your practice, encourage your patients to provide feedback. Make surveys available at the receptionist desk and entrances. Email your patients asking for their input and feedback about how they perceive their experiences with your practice. You can’t just rely on having a certain amount of patients to know how well your transition to a private practice is going. You need to learn firsthand from your patients what is working and what is not so you can use that information to make improvements and adjustments as you finalize your transition.

Sources:

  1. http://www.jabfm.org/content/18/3/180.full