Changes to our healthcare system have changed patient behavior. Patients find physicians differently than they used to in the past. They also have much greater access to healthcare information thanks to the internet and various healthcare-focused sites.
Despite greater access to healthcare and information, patients still have needs and concerns that need to be addressed by their physicians. If practices take greater steps to understand patient behavior, they can build better connections with patients and strengthen trust, which can lead to greater outcomes in treatment.
Understanding Today’s Patient
All of your patients are different. They have different personalities, and different needs and concerns that need to be addressed. A big part of understanding your patients on an individual level is spending time with each patient and really listening to what they have to say. Sometimes, just taking the time to listen to a patient will allow you to pick up on nonverbal cues, which can help you communicate more effectively with your patients.
An article in Psychology Today explains the importance of understanding what your patients are thinking. If doctors can understand patients’ points of view, they can better explain their treatment recommendations. By understanding where the patient is coming from, the physician can explain treatment in a way that resonates with the patient. When patients feel you truly understand them, you can build greater trust with them.
Beyond those individual connections, there are some patient behaviors that have become more widespread. For example, many patients are searching online for health information before finding a physician, and some may even take it a step further and try to self-diagnose before they even step foot in your office. These patients may come in with preconceived notions of what their care should look like, and you may have to understand and contend with that if the actual diagnosis differs.
With all of the online tools available, patients are also coming to expect online availability from their physicians. According to a recent article in Managed Healthcare Executive, only 29% of patients were satisfied with their physicians’ use of online technology to engage patients. If practices want to continue to attract these patients, they’ll need to make themselves more accessible online.
Improving Communication With Today’s Patients
When you have a greater understanding of your patients’ behaviors, you can devise better strategies to communicate with them and learn how to “speak their language.” Again, the way you communicate with each patient individually will vary based on the patient’s personality and needs. However, technology and online marketing can help you bridge some of those communication gaps with patients.
For example, if you notice that a lot of patients are coming in with online information, content marketing is a good way to provide your patients with accurate information. By providing information on your website about your procedures and treatment areas, you can become that online information source for your patients, and they can trust that they are getting the right information.
Practices should also consider online communication options for patients. Access to medical records and secure online communication via patient portals can help your patients become more engaged in their health. It also helps to reassure patients that your practice is doing everything they can to make sure you are being taken care of.
When you take the time to understand what your patients want and need, you will find that they are much more receptive to what you have to say. Once you get past the communication barriers, you can begin to really take care of your patients and help them achieve the best possible outcomes.