The Ten Commandments Of Patient Engagement In The Doctor’s Office

Here is a list of things that physicians, hospitals, along with concerned stake holder partners, etc. need to do to increase patient engagement:

  1. Regardless of how busy you are, act like you are glad to see them (patients).
  2. Say something to hint that you actually remember who they are – this one is crucial.
  3. Enquire about their health after the last appointment and the reason for them coming today. Remember what they say and come back to it later.
  4. Seek for the patient’s idea related to the reason behind the complaints and ask them what they would like you to do for them.
  5. When the patient describes their problem, avoid interrupting them. Ask questions that would further clarify the problem. Show interest in them. They need to be invited to speak up.
  6. Let the patient know your recommendations about the tests, treatments and new medications. Give the reason behind your recommendation. Make sure to check if the patient is okay with it. If not, ask why.
  7. Pay attention to the cues initiated by the patient. Oft times, they are a call for help.
  8. 8.   Show empathy towards them and try to support the patient as best possible.
  9. Try to figure out their health goals and find out the steps they believe can be taken in order to achieve them.
  10. 10.  Suggest ways by which you and your team can support the patients’ long-term care plans.

Most physicians do not face the challenge of “How to engage patients?” since most patients are already engaged to the extent that:

  • They bothered to call your staff and made the appointment (which seldom is a pleasant experience).
  • Took time off work to come to your office.
  • Waited a while before seeing you.
  • Thought about what they wanted to talk to you and how you are too busy to listen.

Rather, the challenge for the providers is “How to be engaging to the patients?” Healthcare always has been the intensely personal and social interaction between human beings.

Health IT professionals will have you believe that EMRs, web portals and smart phone health apps are the best way to engage patients. Which they are not. People would be more engaged in the care only if the providers were more engaging.

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