Doctors and healthcare professionals now have the potential to provide valuable information to their patients outside of the hospital or clinic. Between online and in-person interactions, medical professionals, now more than ever, run the risk of leaving an unbecoming impression on their patients.
There are many benefits to meeting patients in person. These include:
- Finding optimal outcomes
- Communicating a patient’s treatment plan
- Mindfully and actively listening
- Quelling uncertainties
- Answering questions
- Forming a patient-provider partnership
- Educating the patient on various medical options
- Allowing patients to make informed medical decisions
- Alleviating obstacles or insecurities
- Demonstrating an understanding of the patient as a person.
Between these positive interactions, there is also an opportunity for disappointment. That is why it is necessary for medical practices to understand powerful patient communication tactics, both within and outside of the practice.
How to demonstrate authentic patient communication in person
Healthcare providers must be able to examine patient needs and communicate clearly and warmly. A huge part of communication is listening to questions and concerns. It’s understandable that this can be difficult to achieve in a limited amount of time.
On average, a general practitioner has 7 to 10 minutes with a patients, with 3 to 5 minutes in between patients. This makes active listening more challenging, but there are a few ways to engage with patients even in short windows of time.
Studies show that people retain only about 25 percent of information gathered through listening. It is, therefore, most effective to pay attention to another person, acknowledge what they are saying, restate what they have said, and ask questions when listening well.
Patients find more satisfaction when a medical provider demonstrates compassion, true listening, empathy, and a clear explanation of treatment options. Studies show that out of the 18 most important factors that determine a high-quality doctor, 10 have to do with superb communication.
Try these tips to connect with patients more genuinely.
Form a relationship with the patient
Introduce yourself, explain your background, and then ask them basic introductory questions. Invest in their answers, and care about what they say.
Develop a rapport
Eye contact, smiling, nodding, and other nonverbal cues go a long way when creating a connection with someone. Pay attention to what they are saying, and address their concerns with care.
Create a level of trust
It is difficult to trust someone who acts cold or disinterested. Invest in the lives of patients, and learn their hobbies and families. This level of interest lets them trust you because it demonstrates care, not judgment.
Ask strategic questions
When you ask if the patient has any concerns, you are getting to the heart of what they fear and value. It allows them to open up and not skirt around anything they may feel embarrassed or intimidated to mention.
Understand where a patient is coming from
Sometimes patients have interesting concerns, fears, or even misconceptions. It is your job to listen intently and provide compassion and factual advice to calm their worries.
Figure out the patient’s eagerness to learn
Ask questions about the patient’s attitudes and preconceived notions to get a better idea of where they are coming from and the mentality they have.
Initiate a system that takes care of administrative details outside of patient-physician interaction
It’s vital that doctors spend their time with patients understanding their medical questions and concerns, not focusing on data entry.
Connecting with patients using digital healthcare marketing to rise above the competition
There are also ways to connect to patients outside the office and stand out among the increasing consumer choice when it comes to healthcare.
Video marketing on social media is a way to educate followers or allow them to feel more connected to your practice. Videos put a voice and face to something that could seem impersonal or misunderstood. In the medical field especially, there can be convoluted and confusing information that is difficult for patients to understand.
Using videos allows patients to develop trust in a healthcare provider from afar. Videos also boost SEO, or search engine optimization, and demonstrate leadership in innovative approaches to healthcare. Posting videos regularly on your website and social media pages can increase traffic and conversions.
On Instagram, it can be extremely useful to take advantage of videos on Instagram Stories. Stories are a more informal way to engage with followers, share practical information, and create an element of warmth and conversation.
It is best to post often on your Instagram Stories page to truly gain traction and a following. Be honest, interact as much as possible with followers, and be creative. If you can provide useful advice or feedback, do that as much as possible.
It is also powerful to engage on Instagram Stories with calls to action. Create a poll, ask people to DM you with their medical questions, or direct people to your link in bio to sign up for a consult. Instagram Stories are an extension of your company’s story, so make it relatable, easy-going, and fun!
Extra social media tips
As far as any additional healthcare marketing trends, always try new things. Think outside the box, because doing social media differently than your competition will turn your audience into followers.
Social media is all about influence, not advertising. If your calls to action are constantly trying to sell a product or service, then it is probably time to adjust your techniques. Trust the value of incredible content. If you consistently post strategic content, then the conversions will come.
Using patient portals as a personalized, more economical experience
Patients can utilize their portal to accomplish tasks that would typically require a phone call or even multiple phone calls. This ability for patients to request appointments, referrals, and prescription refills directly from the portal increases the efficiency of your clinical staff, allowing them to keep their focus on assisting you with the patients who have the most urgent care needs and questions.
Utilize patient portals to personalize the patient experience and even incentivize them. With patient portals, patients should be able to have 24-hour access to features such as:
- Making appointments (non-urgent)
- Prior visit summaries
- Referral request
- Refill prescriptions options
- Check benefits
- Update insurance or contact information
- Make payments to your provider’s office
- Complete forms
- E-mail reminders and alerts to remember things like annual checkups and flu shots.
Patients are able to utilize the portal to accomplish tasks that would normally require a phone call or even multiple phone calls. This ability for patients to request appointments, referrals, and prescription refills directly from the portal increases the efficiency and allow focus to be better retaining patient communication through other features.
Refining your patient communication
Just like in-office patient interaction, communication is vital in the digital space. Respond to followers’ questions, take the time to answer DMs, and provide insightful advice and information. The fastest, most accurately, and most consistently that you do this, the quicker your social presence will explode.
Digital healthcare marketing is constantly changing, but it is our mission to make your strategic marketing plan as efficient and effective as possible. With strategic practices and full-service marketing plans, we will improve your digital footprint and engage and attract more future patients on a regular basis. Get in touch with our team of skilled marketing pros at 501-235-8194 for a consultation today.