How to Communicate Effectively With Patients to Ensure Optimum Care



Your patients depend on your experience for better care, but keeping patients updated on their diagnoses is not as simple as completing consent forms for patients. Instead, you need to consider how each patient prefers to be contacted, what points need to be emphasized when delivering diagnoses and how updated patient intake forms and other pertinent information affects quality of care. Fortunately, you can make the process simple by following these three tips to effective communication with your patients.

1. Consider the Preferences of Your Patient.

Your patients are more likely to be open to your treatment plan of care if you consider their preferences. Does Mrs. Smith prefer to be given information in person, or would an automatic email reminder be sufficient? At the time of patient registration, have your receptionist verify the “preferred method of contact.” Also, make sure your patients have a secondary contact method listed. This helps to eliminate “holes” in your schedule when patients do not show up for an appointment.

2. Use SBAR When Communicating With Patients.

SBAR stands out as one of the most effective communication tools in modern health care. Think about how point can be used with all communications with your patients.

  • Situation – Explain your current assessment and diagnoses to your patients. This step gives you an indication of leading the conversation with a patient.
  • Background - Define what is considered a “normal” range for x-rays or other diagnostic results. Ensure information on the patient’s chart reflects the most accurate information from electronic patient forms and consents.
  • Assessment – Review what your diagnostic tests or examination found. Identify how each part of your examination and review of information contributed to making a diagnosis.
  • Recommendation – Rather than simply recommending a specific action to your patients, explain how failure to take action could lead to more problems. For example, an impacted tooth may lead to the development of an abscess or gum disease.

3. Keep Patients’ Information Updated.

Your patients’ information may change rapidly, and since your practice relies on each patient to survive, you need to make sure you have the latest information available to keep in contact with patients. Always know when your patients are scheduled, what their complaints are and how your practice could exceed in terms of customer service.

For example, your practice can benefit from knowing beforehand that a patient is considering cosmetic dentistry. This allows you to prepare estimates and the best way of encouraging patients to go through with the procedure. In addition, knowing more information helps you select what promotions your patients may be available for, such as financing or discounted rates on cosmetic dentistry.

With the rise of WebMD and internet-diagnosing tools, more people have access to information about their health care than ever before. Therefore, how you communicate with your patients will determine how many patients continue to come to your practice. By implementing these three standards in your practice now, you can improve the communication with your patients today.

For more information about how to get started with online patient intake forms and other electronic patient forms, contact Practice Sense at or 1 (800) 619-2955. 

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Topics: Patient Communication

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