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The Modern-Day Doctor-Patient Relationship Goes Beyond the Practice

Written by: Jim Higgins | Healthcare IT

The consumer-like attitude of patients underscores the importance of practices building and improving relationships

Effective doctor-patient communication is the foundation of patient satisfaction, and that will never change. In fact, managing the patient experience is now more important than ever.

As patients continue to assume greater responsibility for the cost of their care, they are placing greater emphasis on high-quality relationships with their doctors and practices. Patients are also “shopping around” more for doctors, with nearly 25% visiting three or more primary care physicians in the span of two years. This consumer-like attitude of patients underscores the importance of practices strengthening relationships with patients in order to keep them from seeking care elsewhere.

Fortunately, advancements in communication technology can help, as doctor-patient communication is no longer confined inside the walls of the practice. Organizations now have more opportunities than before to expand patient communication at any time between appointments.

Patient Interaction and Satisfaction

Engaging with patients online is critical for a practice’s communication strategy. Social media communication is now a societal norm thanks to platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. And 77% of patients admit to using online review sites as a first step in selecting a doctor. Consistent online engagement is of paramount importance in developing patient relationships simply because it meets patients where they are.

Online interactions provide opportunities for providers to further educate patients beyond the exam room and communicate with patients as part of their daily routines. It’s estimated that as many as 75% of Internet users leverage social media for access to healthcare information.

Practices can leverage these online sites in many ways to interact with patients. Whether it’s to establish thought leadership, create a greater sense of community with patients, provide a specific diagnosis or even solve potential service issues, patients will appreciate the access and collaboration that has become essential to improving patient outcomes and patient satisfaction.

Education Beyond Appointments

After patients depart from their appointments, a lack of communication and education from their doctors can lead to feelings of isolation from practices. Consequently, less education also means patients are not as likely to experience better outcomes.

By leveraging tools such as monthly e-newsletters, practices are put in an optimal position to connect with patients consistently, providing access to educational, helpful information pertinent to their own health. Educational resources also make patients aware of other important practice information such as practice promotions, updates on specific procedures and treatment plans, and general healthcare knowledge and tips designed to improve patient outcomes.

These tools also allow practices to cultivate more satisfying patient relationships and lay the foundation for patient loyalty. Targeted educational content empowers greater personal care ownership. Educational resources also help fill in communication gaps between visits and play an important role in the transformation from casual patient interactions to long-term relationships.

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