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  • Jessica Ovadia

Improving the Patient-Provider Relationship and Quality Care

Updated: Aug 17, 2022

Patients who experience complex or sensitive health issues require care that is gentle, informative and productive. Unfortunately, today, there are countless system-wide challenges affecting the delivery and management of quality care.

Limited Time

In a matter of minutes, providers connect with the patient, gather relevant information and build a treatment plan. In that same limited time frame, patients must share their concerns, prioritize their goals and collaborate on a proactive plan - all during a visit where they often feel vulnerable and scared. It’s no wonder that our time-constrained system leaves 45% of patients with unaddressed concerns after their appointment.

Administrative Burden for Providers Nearly 25% of providers' work hours are filled with administrative tasks such as documenting electronic medical records and managing insurance claims. This means more time managing their practice and less time with the patient.

Siloed, Fragmented Care for Patients Patients have questions, especially when treatment for their conditions requires care from multiple specialists, in multiple settings. And with heightened levels of anxiety and apprehension, communication and comprehension during an office visit remain critical components of success.

These challenges certainly hinder our journey to quality care. Luckily, however, we have a tool that can improve the provider-patient relationship and ultimately the care offered, today: Effective Communication

Here are some tips for improved provider-patient communication

1. A Grounding Mindset - Take 3 deep breaths before the encounter Providers may be caring for their 30th patient of the day and it can be challenging to enter the exam room and ensure the patient feels unique and valued. Patients, on the other hand, are somehow expected to prepare for an appointment they generally have little information about. Questions, concerns and fears tend to inform the emotional state of the patient and these factors don’t support a productive provider-patient encounter. The 3 deep breaths (or as many as needed) can help those involved focus on the purpose and goals of the exam.

2. Preparation Action - Review history and prepare questions Personalization and preparedness generally pack a punch so, whether a routine exam or a specialized case, providers should always review the file prior to entering the exam room. Patients should exert similar care to research, consider the conditions they want to discuss and prepare a list of questions to review during the appointment. And remember, honest information leads to honest feedback. So share the truth - there is nothing to be embarrassed about.

3. Communication - Wise words and empathetic body language

Intentional word choice can be the difference between a patient feeling heard or hurt and since providers can be an excellent resource to advise on healthy habits and next steps, word choice is critical. Of course, communication impact doesn’t stop at words. 80% of communication is non-verbal. That means that both provider and patient must consider their body language even more than their words. Eye contact, pausing, listening and asking questions. …these are all techniques that can improve the care delivered and received.

Quality care starts with quality time and by improving our communication skills during appointments, we are one step closer to improved patient outcomes.

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