In a recent blog post on Adventures in Medicine, an online career tracking resource for physicians and medical residents, Dr. Adriana Tobar outlined 5 ways to know if you really provide patient-centered care, all of which also apply directly to dental professionals. Dr. Tobar stresses that patient-centered care is, ?about genuinely connecting with your patients and giving the best care you possibly can.?
According to Dr. Tobar, patient-centered dental care must include, but not necessarily limited to, the following best practices:
1. Care and interactions informed by empathy - Take time to listen to each patient and understand their needs and concerns. Incorporate any such realizations into your care to that particular patient.
2. High level of trust with patients - Quite simply, if the patient feels comfortable with you, he or she will have a high level of trust with you.
3. Patients are comfortable sharing health concerns with you - Not only should your patients trust you, but they should be comfortable discussing any and all health concerns with you. Dr. Tobar writes, ?Think about it: If a patient doesn?t feel comfortable opening up to you, he or she might not tell you everything you need to know, and you might not be able to provide the right treatment.?
4. Easily initiate small talk - Nobody wants a dentist who is all business, business, business. If you find that you can easily introduce yourself to new people and find common subjects to chat about, then you?re already a step ahead of the competition. Dentists meet new patients all the time, and the ability to chat, even briefly, can help put them at ease quicker. If you really aren?t good at dealing with people on a personal level, consider chatting about a non-controversial news development, or tell them about the latest in new dental products.
5. Balance listening, responding and explaining - Of course, too much small talk makes for a chatterbox, and nobody wants that either. A patient-centered dentist should strive to have that perfect balance of being engaging, thoughtful and open with patients. Make sure you have the appropriate balance in your chair-side manner.
Where do you excel and where do you most need to work to be a patient-centered dentist? Are you a chatty Cathy or a silent Saul?
As a patient, I am as grateful for my dentist's empathy, people skills, and demeanor as I am with his dentistry. And they both keep me a loyal, referring patient.