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5 Ways Doctors Can Leverage Solid Communication Skills During Exams To Enhance Patient Experience

Enhancing Patient Care Through Effective Communication: Practical Strategies for Doctors to Build Stronger Patient Connections

Written by: Aaron Michael Buch

Leverage Communication

Disclaimer: We will begin with a short intro needed to please the search engines algorithm Gods.

We’ll get through it together and quickly get to the meat of the article.

We’ll also be using the phrase “orthopedic surgeon” or “orthopedic doctors” rather frequently, instead of just saying “you”.

That’s for search engine optimization. We could just say you, but Google and Bing don’t know who you are. And then, you, couldn’t find this article. See what we did there?

Okay, let’s get to it!

Effective communication is an essential part of the doctor-patient relationship and can be especially important for orthopedic surgeons, who are often treating patients with complex medical conditions or injuries.

Here are five ways an orthopedic surgeon can better communicate with patients during exams:

1. Listen actively: Wait. You’re telling me to listen? Seriously? Alright, hold on a moment. Let’s just seriously remember that one of the most important aspects of effective communication is actively listening to patients. We’ve spoken to hundreds of orthopedic doctors over the last few years alone that have mentioned they had a huge shift in both momenta, reviews, and success by working their way out of the routine and trying to do more listening and hearing instead of sizing a patient up quickly to get to the next patient. As an Orthopedic surgeon, leveraging this skill will resonate with patients and they will tell others about it, period. Many doctors make the patient feel rushed and therefore not heard. You can change this little by little daily until it’s more part of your routine. We understand the pressure felt by doctors coming from many areas. Leave yourself a reminder where ever it is you take your notes. Use a real post it with a code word only you know as a reminder. Or, get it tattooed on your arm, whatever works. This is one of the most important keys to success as many patients feel their pain is unique to them and they need to be heard. Taking the time to listen to patients’ concerns and proactively engaging in a productive conversation that doesn’t feel rushed will do wonders. Beyond making the patient feel a certain way, you’ll also likely better understand their needs.

To spice up this article, here is a stock image of a doctor listening.

 

Photo Note: You’ll notice we photoshopped out the stethoscope, as we realize you don’t walk around with them and you’re not a PCP. It’s infuriating how some “healthcare marketing” companies don’t know the basics of their audience. Internally, we call it photos with the deathoscope. 😄

Speaking of knowing your audience, let’s talk about orthopedic surgeons understanding their audience.

2. Dump the MCJ: The team here at Ortho Strategy Group loves acronyms. If you’re new here, you’ll find that out quickly, many have said it’s helpful. It likely comes from several of us having a background working in the government or at Google, both of who are obsessed with acronyming everything. Oh yes, that’s a real word.

It’s important for orthopedic surgeons to use language that is clear and easy for patients to understand. Avoid using too much MCJ (medical clinical jargon) or technical terms unless they are definitely necessary to fully convey what’s going on.

We’ve interviewed thousands of patients pre and post-operatively and have asked every single one why they chose their doctor. The passionate ones, in one way or another, always mention being “down to earth”. For an Orthopedic surgeon, many times that means getting on the same level and eliminating the hierarchy of the patient-doctor relationship. After all, you may very well soon be opening up their body in an operating room. Starting this journey off right will be a win-win. Again, it’s perfectly normal to use daily reminders for yourself.

3. Encourage questions: We get it. Patients have a lot of questions already. Try to remember that you do this every day and they’ve been either avoiding this for years or are generally in an anxious and uncertain state. Most likely, they will have questions or concerns about their treatment or condition that won’t be asked until you prompt them toward the end of the exam. A good Orthopedic surgeon will make the effort to encourage patients to ask questions and take the time to answer them thoroughly and clearly. Again, the benefits of this are twofold. You will learn more about them, they will learn more about the situation. It’s time for a cheesy marketing quote that applies wonderfully. People buy when they know why. Or, for medical we could maybe say Patients will book…when time is took…(to explain and answer questions). Alright, it’s not as snazzy but you get the point. If people don’t understand what is going on, they won’t move forward, which is oftentimes not in anyone’s best interest. For the practice’s bottom line, or the patient’s quality of life.

4. Explain treatment options: Orthopedic surgeons should explain treatment options in a clear and concise manner, highlighting the potential benefits and risks of each option. This can help patients make informed decisions about their care.

5. Provide written information, QR codes, and links: In addition to verbal communication, orthopedic surgeons can provide written information to patients, such as handouts or brochures, to help reinforce important information. This can be especially helpful for patients who may need to refer back to this information later.

Here is the conclusion: by using simple tactics to remind themselves of these practices, and implementing these strategies, orthopedic surgeons can drastically improve their communication with patients and enhance the overall patient experience leading to more referrals, better reviews, healthier patients and a healthier practice.

Written by Aaron Michael Buch
Co-Founder | Hexapoint
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