While the majority of patients and their families appreciate the help and healing offered by healthcare providers, many also complain that the healthcare industry has become too impersonal and bureaucratic. They often cite historical references to the olden days when doctors were more personally acquainted with each patient, and report that nowadays they are not given enough one-on-one attention.
Organizations have not only grown bigger, but technology has removed much of the human element in caregiver-to-patient interactions, as healthcare facilities strive to be more productive, efficient, and affordable.
Steps to Improve Your Beside Manner
There are steps you can take though, and here are four tips to improve your bedside manner that can make a real difference in how you are perceived by patients.
1. Professional Can Also Be Friendly
You need to maintain a professional demeanor, but that does not mean you cannot be warm and friendly. Greet the patient, make sure you pronounce their name correctly, and offer them energetic focus. Resist the urge to see them as a problem or puzzle to be solved before you move along to the next patient, and that extra effort will score lots of positive points.
2. Nonverbal Communication Matters
Do make eye contact and shake your patient’s hand. Don’t just stare at a chart, clipboard, or computer. Do stand up straight, smile, and try to sit at the same eye level as the person to whom you are talking. Don’t write, read, or look away while they are answering your questions.
3. Let the Patient Explain the Problem
Let the patient describe in their own words how they feel, what their symptoms are, how long they have felt that way, and why they came to see you. Oftentimes the patient will provide information or insights that you would otherwise miss, and that can be critically important. The tone they use and the words they choose can also be key indicators of their level of well-being or stress.
4. Reassure Patients and Family Members
You don’t have to make promises in order to offer reassurance. Let patients and family know they are in good hands and that you will do everything to help them and try to ensure their comfort. If you don’t verbalize that, they may not feel safe or secure, and a little reassurance can emotionally and psychologically aid in a faster recovery.