Ophthalmology, like all areas of healthcare, is a partnership between patients and doctors. Patients, who have a stake in their own eye care, want to feel that ophthalmologists are equally involved in that concern. Good bedside manner puts patients at ease and allow them to see their ophthalmologists as part of their team. Doctors who master a few interaction skills will go far in building relationships and having positive outcomes with patient experiences.
Professionalism. Everything about a doctor should exude authority, cleanliness and confidence. Dirty nails, rumpled clothes, mumbled speech, acrid breath and slouching add to questions of competence. The simple act of washing hands in front of patients adds to good impressions.
Familiarity. Using patients’ names and having a general overview of their histories are intimate and comforting.
Manners. “Please,” “thank you” show deference and respect.
Interaction. Doctors build trust and show respect with basic exchanges. Make eye contact to demonstrate focus. Listen politely and ask for clarification.
Notes. Don’t wait until after a consultation to jot down information. Patients are generally not insulted by note taking. If they are, they immediately gain appreciation when their information is accurately restated to them.
Physical Contact. Touching shoulders, legs or heads of patients could be interpreted as condescending, but touching arms or hands are generally received as acts of compassion and understanding.
Authority. Patients often lack confidence when speaking to medical professionals. Use firm, positive language to put them at ease. Use common words to explain jargon and complex terms.
Honesty. Tell the straight truth and when you don’t know something, state that you don’t know.
Judgement. Appearance, speech and behavior often give misleading clues about who patients are. Keep opinions and prejudices in check and avoid negative body language.
Follow Up. Contacting patients after care demonstrates excellent customer service and solidifies a doctor’s position as part of the team.