How to reposition a patient with skeletal traction

Practice tips for doctors

General tips for dealing with patients

Friendliness as a figurehead

Professional quality and good organization are important prerequisites for patient contact. Most patients, however, perceive emotional rather than factual criteria. Sick people in particular are sensitive and react very sensitively to unkindness. A doctor's practice is rated “good” if the communication is appreciative and courteous. It is therefore essential to pay attention to the manners of your employees.

What was your name again?

Attributions are extremely important for personal contact. Patients who are repeatedly asked for their name feel “not seen”. Your team should therefore ensure that patients are addressed correctly. A good name memory can be trained. Nobody wants to be "The hay fever in room two". To be mentioned by name when greeting and saying goodbye is seen as appreciative.

If possible: do not urge your patient to undress prematurely

"Make yourself free until the doctor comes!" Many patients still hear this sentence - and would like to run away straight away. Because even if you hurry up, your patient will find the time he waits half-naked in the room to be too long. If you enter the room rushed and fully clothed, the contact is uncomfortable for him. He may even find the situation humiliating.

Of course, on the other hand, it can sometimes take a long time for e.g. frail or confused patients to undress. If there is no other way, at least a personal greeting in advance - and before you move out - will help.

Hustle and bustle drives away seniors

Older people usually perceive hectic behavior as threatening. Since they cannot follow the processes so quickly and often understand instructions with a delay, they develop uncertainty or even fear in such situations. Make sure that your employees are calm when dealing with seniors. Avoid noise and stress. Speaking slowly and clearly conveys compassion and security. Then older patients will be happy to come to your practice.

As a practice team, ensure that the patients say goodbye!

Studies show that a surprising number of patients do not say goodbye at all when they leave the practice or at most receive a muttered "goodbye" at their own farewell greeting. This is usually not done on purpose and can certainly be explained by dealing with the new patient or other work. Nevertheless, you shouldn't accept that, because an attentive "Get well soon" or clearly articulated "Goodbye, Mr. Schulze" leaves an important last impression and strengthens patient loyalty with little effort. If necessary, ask for a joint effort in this direction in the next team meeting.

Ask others how your practice is working

Effectiveness, routine, short distances and a smooth technical process are the focus of the practice team. For patients, however, benevolent attention, pleasant waiting times and an appealing ambience are important.

Ask patients with whom you are on good terms what their impressions are. Or ask a benevolent fellow human being to visit your practice with a subsequent wellbeing report. And honestly please! In this way you can track down discrepancies that you do not notice in everyday life - and correct them if necessary.

This is how you can help your hearing-impaired patients

Patients who are hard of hearing can really suffer in your practice. They are already tense in the waiting room because they fear that they will miss the call. Later on, they do not understand your explanations, but are also reluctant to ask three times.

You can prevent this quite well with the following simple means:

  • Make the hearing loss clearly recognizable in the patient file

  • Sensitize practice staff that special care is required when addressing the patient with the "hearing impairment" marker and that you will definitely be informed beforehand

  • personally pick you up from the waiting room and say so in advance

  • always speak slowly and clearly and at a short distance from one another

  • Always look at the patient while speaking

  • make sure that the patient has actually understood what has been explained, if necessary have him repeat everything to be on the safe side

  • to be patient

  • if necessary write something down

  • arrange SMS or e-mail contact instead of telephone contact

Doctor: It is by no means all the same for the patient

Doctors receive less information from their patients than their female colleagues. And doctors are more likely to involve patients in therapy decisions. That is the result of a study at the University of Neuchâtel. From the perspective of the interviewed patients, the communication style of male colleagues is often perceived as less cooperative than that of female doctors.
And the moral of the story? Of course, this does not apply across the board. But male medical professionals should at least be aware that - if only because they are “men” - they are a little more intimidating than doctors already do. And that they may have to ask their patients to take an active role even more sensitively, because otherwise they would not trust each other (and might prefer to switch doctors).

Small "caresses" for your patients

Physical exams are not just for diagnosis. They also have a positive side effect: the touch is a form of affection. This is often a special experience, especially for older patients. Because many elderly people do not experience any skin contact for weeks at a time. A caring touch of the hands or palpation of the neck muscles can trigger a special sense of wellbeing. As practice shows, some complaints are suddenly no longer perceived as strongly.

Surveying patients is worthwhile

Every medical practice should be interested in promoting patient satisfaction. Because economic success depends on it. A written patient survey is therefore a good means of determining wishes and criticism. Ideally, this is carried out on an annual basis.
Important: Ask clear questions for which the possible answers are given. This makes the decision easier for the patient and leads to more precise results. And reduce the scope to around five questions.

In this way, you can make your practice more attractive to older patients

The proportion of elderly patients is steadily increasing. That is why you should also keep an eye on the elderly in your services. This does not necessarily require expensive modifications. Even little things, such as waiting room chairs with backrests that make it easier to get up, can help. The help of an MFA in filling out care or insurance applications is just as popular.
Invite a few older patients to your practice for a chat. They will see the invitation as appreciative and will likely be able to make helpful suggestions for improvement.

Patient loss? This is how you get to the bottom of the track

When the number of patients falls, the causes can be complex. Do you use the times around the holidays too intensively for vacation (practice closure)? Is the appearance of your practice still in keeping with the times? Have there been any changes in the staff? Or are you too aggressively selling individual health services?

With a representative patient survey, you can quickly find out the causes. Make sure that anonymity is guaranteed!

It is better to test the satisfaction of your patients in more detail!

Even if you don't have to be fooled by the army of often self-appointed practice consultants and management specialists: a healthy level of quality management is, quite apart from the legal obligation, part of the medical self-image. This includes the systematic recording of patient satisfaction, which you can easily do yourself. When evaluating patient surveys, however, it should be noted that overall analyzes usually suggest significantly higher levels of satisfaction than partial analyzes that specifically examine relevant target groups among the patients.

A typical example: The overall survey of all patients resulted in an average patient satisfaction value of 2.2 and thus no indication of an urgent need for action. On the other hand, things looked different after the target group-specific partial analysis: New patients only gave the practice a grade of 3.4, IGeL patients even only a grade of 3.9, while the regular (grade 1.9) and statutory health insurance patients (grade 2.1) were much more satisfied with the practice.
(Source: IFABS study report: patient satisfaction surveys, 2010)

Authors: Jan-Rüdiger Vogler & Dr. med. Jörg Zorn