Effective communication is pretty important, no matter what job you have or industry you work in. When it comes to communicating about health, though, it becomes absolutely essential. Considering how literally life changing effective communication with your patients can be, how can providers make sure they are doing just that?
Ask Their Preferences
Everyone has their preferences about how they want to receive communications. Some people may prefer to receive phone calls from your practice, while others find email more beneficial. Asking what your patients’ preferences are helps you communicate effectively by increasing the chances that they will actually receive the information you’re sending out. If you’re looking for ways to help your patients keep their appointments, figuring out what their preferences are is a good place to start.
Use Text Messaging
Most of your patients likely have cell phones (or their parents do if you work in family practice). Text messaging has a high open and response rate. This makes text messaging a convenient way to reach out to your patients. You can send texts to remind them about their appointments and reminders to pay bills. If they have smartphones, texting can be an even more effective way to communicate with them. You can include links in your messages to things like early check-in pages, bill payment pages, and post appointment surveys.
Drop the Jargon
Think about how long you went to medical school to get to where you are now. It was a process that took years and countless hours of study. Now think back to where you were before that point. Did you understand medical and anatomical terminology then the way you do now? Probably not. The overwhelming majority of your patients won’t either. Patients need to clearly understand what you’re trying to tell them about their health. If they can’t understand what you’re telling them because you’re using vocabulary that they aren’t familiar with, they’re going to be confused, frustrated, and may stop coming to you. Avoid using much medical jargon during your appointments. Leave that for patient notes and communications with other healthcare providers.
Health care providers need to be able to communicate effectively with patients. Start by asking their preferences and consider using text messaging to stay in touch. Make sure your patients can clearly understand what you’re trying to communicate by avoiding using too much medical jargon. You need to prioritize effective communication in your practice. It’s one of the things that can make or break your provider-patient relationship.
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