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How Adjusting Your Bedside Manner Can Boost Patient Retention

A sterile approach to patient care won’t garner return visits. Keep patients coming back with these bedside manner best practices.

When patients seek medical care, they expect to receive an accurate diagnosis and effective care. They also expect to be treated with kindness and compassion by the physician and their staff.

Patient retention can be directly linked to a person’s experience at a healthcare practice. Those who feel satisfied with their visit overall are likely to return, whereas people who have a negative experience might never come again — and could feel provoked enough to publish an unfavorable review or testimonial online.

It’s time for bedside manner to become a top priority for all healthcare providers. Here are four examples of good bedside manner that effectively double as patient retention strategies.

Keep Patients Informed

Healthcare providers perform medical procedures on a daily basis, but even routine practices can intimidate uninformed patients. The unknown fuels fear so patients need to be kept in the know.

For example, Kaiser Permanente created a new process designed to enhance patients’ surgical recovery and ensure they’re well-versed in their own health. Patients are given checklists to help them prepare for surgery, plan ahead for the day of the procedure, and know what their recovery will involve.

Involving patients in the conversation about their health makes sense, but plenty of healthcare providers don’t take this step. Not only is it the right thing to do, it can also boost patient retention, as people value healthcare professionals who let them know what’s going on with their own bodies.

Demonstrate Respect

In the age of cyberchondria, it’s easy to think patients who arrive with a self-diagnosis from Dr. Google are overreacting. Patients might not have medical training, but that doesn’t mean their thoughts and opinions should be dismissed.

No one knows a patient’s body better than the person living in it. Consequently, patients should be able to explain their symptoms — and what they think might be the root cause — without interruption. When they’re done speaking, the healthcare provider should offer their own diagnosis, without patronizing the patient. If the person still insists on being checked for a certain ailment, their wish should be granted — and any additional costs for tests or analysis should be stated upfront.

Read: 4 Strategies for Physicians to Address Patient Self-Diagnosis

Display Compassion

No one wants to receive care from a seemingly cold-hearted individual. Treating patients with kindness is one of the most powerful patient retention strategies because people seek comfort from professionals managing their health.

Whether they’re visiting for a routine procedure or undergoing treatment for a chronic illness, patients feel uneasy around a provider who lacks empathy. A triple bypass, for example, is just another day at work for a surgeon, but it can be terrifying for a patient and their loved ones.

Providers must be able to put themselves in patients’ shoes and display genuine concern. If a patient doesn’t feel like they’ve been treated with compassion, it’s possible they’ll write an online review warning others to steer clear of the healthcare professional they deemed inconsiderate.

Also See: 4 Reasons Your Patient Retention is Declining — and How to Fix It

Follow Up After Treatment

Good bedside manner doesn’t end when the patient leaves the medical facility. People want to feel like their provider is truly invested in their well-being, so reaching out shortly after their visit adds an extra element of warmth.

For example, giving a patient a call the day after a procedure to see how they’re doing is a personal touch they won’t forget. It’s also wise to send a post-visit survey to prompt patients for reviews and testimonials, as even the most satisfied patients might not take this step without a prompt.

No one appreciates being made to feel like a number. Even when it isn’t necessary, following up is always a good idea because people want to return to a provider who makes them a priority.

Patient retention is the key to a lasting healthcare practice. If a patient has to choose between two providers of equal skill, they’ll likely opt for the professional with the better bedside manner.

Taking a sterile approach to patient care might work one time, but it probably won’t garner a second visit. Patient experience is largely dictated by bedside manner because people want to receive treatment from a caring provider who makes them feel valued.

Lose a patient because of less-than-stellar bedside manner? See how you can win them back in the blog “How Healthcare Providers Can Win Back Lost Patients in 3 Steps.”

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