5 Expert Tips for a More Empathetic Practice

patient engagement

Empathy Drives Patient Engagement

There are a lot of factors that go into patient engagement. In putting together a strategy to tackle engagement, it can be challenging to know where to start.

Of course, where you decide to start with your strategy will look different for every practice. However, what every strategy must include is empathy, because this is the backbone of a successful healthcare experience.

Empathy is defined as the ability 

Here are five tips to help you achieve an empathetic atmosphere at your practice.

Tip #1 – Show Your Staff Why It Matters

Breaking down the different parts of patient engagement can be hard – especially if you’re trying to make it clear to your whole team! It is easy enough to say to your staff, “Be kinder to patients”. Sometimes, it can be hard to prioritize this at a busy practice! Staff may just want to get the job done. 

This is why it is key to show staff why patience and empathy also help the practice experience even greater success. For example:

  • Patient satisfaction is enhanced by how your patients feel at your practice. If they didn’t feel good about their experience, that will show in your lack of online reviews. These are some of the key ways that dental practices build reputation and find new patients.
  • Patients are more communicative with their dentist when approached with empathy and patience. This facilitates a better understanding of the patient’s health, since they will feel empowered to convey every relevant detail of their symptoms.

If we look at these two points, we can extrapolate on how this improves outcomes for your practice. A happy patient is that much more likely to come prepared for their appointments, because they feel invested in their oral health. They are more likely to speak well of your practice to others, which brings in new patients. This has a positive effect on revenue! They are also more likely to have a positive appointment outcome, because the dentist is armed with a full picture of their symptoms.

Tip #2: Give Your Staff the Right Training

Once you can show to your staff how this part of patient engagement helps your practice be more successful, you need to show them how to do it right!

Again, it’s one thing to say, “Okay, we need to be patient and empathetic with our patients!” Offer training on how to achieve this atmosphere.

We will discuss these things a little more in-depth in the rest of the blog post, but, at a glance, here are some things to include in training: 

  • Active listening
  • How to support a frustrated patient
  • Remembering to be patient with yourself, as well
  • How to assure an anxious patient
  • And more

Implementing this kind of training for your staff will truly set them up for success. 

Tip #3: Be an Active Listener

So much of patient engagement is just making sure your patients know you care about them. Active listening is a key feature of showing your patients that you care.

Being an active listener can include:

  • Making direct eye contact with the patient, where possible
  • Not doing other activities while listening to the patient, i.e., taking notes
  • Ask clarifying questions (this will show that you have paid close attention to what they said!
  • If they speak a language that you don’t speak, and someone is interpreting – be sure not to just look at the interpreter!

Remember, communication is not just words – it’s also body language! Doing something as simple as making direct eye contact and not appearing distracted truly goes a long way. 

Tip #4: Provide Your Patients with Education

This may seem counterintuitive – how can education show your patients that you are empathetic? How does handing them a pamphlet show them that you care about their dental health?

But this is not as counterintuitive as it may seem. To show your patients that you understand their feelings, you can show them that you trust them to make informed decisions about their oral health. Offering them the right information shows that you want to empower them to do just that. It shows that you trust them. 

Educational materials might include:

  • Online resources
  • Pamphlets
  • Infographics
  • Informational videos
  • And more!

Ensuring that these materials are accessible, in the sense that they can be understood by someone without a degree in dentistry, is a must! If possible, offer these materials in as many of the languages of your region as you can.

Tip #5: Show Up for Each Step of the Patient Journey

Part of empathy is being able to imagine the feelings of others. To create an empathetic atmosphere, you have to consider how your patients are feeling at every step of their care. Keeping your patients engaged at every step demonstrates that you are empathetic towards their experience at your practice.

Staying engaged at every step in the patient journey can look like:

  • Providing adequate reminders for your patient, including appointment instructions
  • Doing follow-up check-ins, where appropriate
  • Inviting feedback from the patient
  • Setting up a cycle of engagement, in which patients are contacted between visits

This is where patient engagement can help! Automating reminders and other messaging allows you to deliver this comprehensive patient experience with ease.

Your Practice and Empathy

Empathy may seem like a small change, but the power it has in improving patient engagement should not be underestimated. Create that empathetic atmosphere today – see the drastic positive results in your patient engagement efforts!

If you’re curious to learn more about how Intiveo can help you in making your engagement strategy a reality, book a meeting today!