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    Building trust with patients builds the practice

    It starts with first contact via telephone and continues through patient handoff


    Practice and patient personality

    Keep in mind that a practice’s personality may influence the decision for patients to become loyal to the practice and may affect team members’ ability to build patient trust. A practice is comprised of various personalities; when all are combined, we become a synergy or greater than the sum of an individual—this is the practice’s personality.

    It is natural for people to gravitate toward individuals and organizations that represent beliefs that are similar to their own. In other words, if a patient senses our collective personality resembles her own, she would like to be associated with us; she may perceive us as a continuation of herself, inspiring trust. It is through trust that commitment is built.

    The objective for every practice should be a resilient, self-assured team and an abundance of loyal patients. Resiliency is an achievable, albeit, ambitious goal.

    We have heard the old adage, “Respect is a two-way-street.” However, I think respect is more than a two-way street; there are multiple individuals with many personalities to consider.  

    Related: Help! My team is falling apart

    Team interaction

    As team members, we respect each other’s talents and skills; what follows is an appreciation of our specific abilities to provide additional levels of patient care. A team consists of multiple individuals, and likewise, separate thoughts and ideas. Innovative new ideas expressed require respect, complete candor, and confidence without fear of ridicule or mockery. A team that values individual thoughts will continue to grow in certainty and conviction. Treating inventive fresh ideas and viewpoints with acceptance will stimulate additional perspectives and encourage team appreciation.

    Inspire the team to become adaptable—it is vital we learn to “change with change.” New concepts are almost never easy, but team adaptability may add benefits to our practice. Simple changes, such as color-identifying folders or an identifying flag system, will help streamline the patient experience without additional disruption. 

    Aggressive modifications are not as easy to implement. For instance, if we change the check-in or checkout process, perhaps we will require additional patient information, which may add more time to both processes. It will take time to adjust to these changes, but remaining flexible with team input and possible modifications, will allow us to become more proficient with patient care.  

    Team interaction is palpable to patients and is demonstrated best when our patient is transferred from one testing area to another. The transfer from one team member to the next is known as the patient handoff. Every patient handoff is essential to demonstrate the confidence we have in each other.

    Review with the team the routine dialogue used during the patient handoff,

    listen as though we are the patient, and allow yourself to hear the exchange as if for the first time. Does the conversation invoke confidence? If it does not, find an interchange that will focus on building confidence, make sure the exchange feels comfortable with every team member. With a successful patient handoff, our patients sense our positive interaction as an extension of their care.

    Tami L. Hagemeyer, ABOC, FNAO
    Tami Hagemeyer is the lead optician at Premier Vision Group in Bowling Green, OH. She is responsible for all phases of optometric and ...


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    Optometry Times A/V