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During each clinical encounter, there are moments that arise naturally as ideal “teaching moments.” Here’s a quick summary of how to apply the ideas to a typical patient encounter, to build trust and compliance.
Upon entering the room, greet the patient by name. Introduce yourself as needed.
Acknowledge any family members who are present by shaking hands or making eye contact.
Acknowledge the wait, if there was one.
Ask an open-ended question about the reason for the visit, to get a sense of the patient’s mindset and emotional state.
If a patient has several reasons for the visit, prioritize them together, so you can focus on dealing with the primary concern.
Keep eye contact and listen for potential barriers to successful treatment.
Show your empathy for a patient’s situation. Acknowledge his or her emotional state. This validates the patient’s concern or fear.
Try to frame your dialog using a patient’s own words and level of medical sophistication.
Keep a clear focus on the diagnosis, procedure, self-care, or other information you’re delivering.
Watch for changes in the patient’s body language or voice that signal fear or incomprehension, and adjust your explanation accordingly.
Give your rationale for tests, treatment or medication to encourage a patient’s sense of collaboration.
Use patient education materials to reinforce your message.
Get a repeat demonstration of skills a patient needs to master.
Ask an open-ended question to check their understanding of skills.
Clearly state one achievable goal a patient can work toward before the next visit, to help your visits feel successful.
You or a staff member can note in a patient’s chart any booklets, videos, or other materials you’ve given out, to aid informed consent.
You might also note any communication challenges, such as low-literacy skills (or highly literate Internet skills), to help the next visit go more smoothly for you and the staff.