BONDING WITH PATIENTS
BY MARY JAMESON, BHS, CPOT, COA, NCLC, Elkins Park, Pa.
You're having another one of those days. You've never seen the office busier and now the doctor's running late. You have the best intentions as you begin to record your patient's history, but no sooner does he start talking than you're fidgeting and rearranging the items on the counter in front of you, wondering how late you'll have to stay tonight. Don't be surprised if your patient becomes annoyed. How can you be listening to him when you're so obviously and easily distracted?
ASSESS YOUR SKILLS
Listening is the most challenging -- and ignored -- of all communication skills. An average person remembers only 50% of what he hears, a statistic that takes on significant meaning when working with contact lens patients. Listening to your patients will improve your productivity, shave time off patient visits and most importantly, show your patients they're receiving the best care. Here are some tips to help you sharpen your listening skills.
When meeting a patient for the first time, be sure to introduce yourself, explaining how you're associated with the practice and what your role will be during his visit. For example: "Good morning. My name is Mary. I'm the contact lens technician who'll be assisting Dr. Joseph with your care today."
This simple courtesy will set patients at ease and encourage them to confide in you. We need patients to tell us about their problems, which they may not do if they think we're not listening.
Being a better listener benefits your patients and can make your job easier, too. If patients think you're not interested in what they're saying, chances are they won't be too interested in the important lens care information you're sharing with them.
Show you're listening -- and they're listening to you -- by asking them to demonstrate lens care or by quizzing them about recommended multipurpose solutions.
MAKE A CONNECTION
People enter our offices for the first time as strangers. It's up to us to transform them into trusting patients. Good listening skills go a long way toward forging this vital bond, ultimately elevating the quality of our patient care.