Trust is essential to any relationship. It is a key factor in maintaining relationships between doctors, pharmacies, other medical practitioners, healthcare organizations, and patients. Building trust with your patients relies on creating the best possible experience, showing compassion and open communication.
Trust plays a vital role in health care settings where care is delivered through interactions amongst individuals. Most patients will place their trust in you based on strategic calculations or personal reasons. Trust helps shape various aspects of your interaction with the patient, from personal disclosure to cooperation in treatment.
Trust can also affect and influence financial arrangements in the health care setting. There are numerous benefits of fostering trust in health care settings from financial benefits to ensuring that the best quality of healthcare is given to the patients.
What can you do to increase trust in healthcare?
To foster and cultivate trust in healthcare, there are a few things that can be done. These include:
1. Show Empathy:
Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference, that is, the capacity to put yourself in another’s position.1 As a healthcare practitioner, you should be able to show empathy. This will help improve the standard of health care which will in turn successfully grow your business. Empathy in a clinical context is your ability as a physician to understand patients’ emotions, which can facilitate more accurate diagnoses and more caring treatment.2 This is different from sympathy or sharing patients’ emotions, which instead can hinder objective diagnoses and effective treatment.
2. Be Compassionate:
Being compassionate, active listening, spending appropriate time with patients, and helping to advise and resolve the patient’s problems will all contribute to building a trusting, respectful relationship with your patients.
3. Open communication:
Communication is a crucial component in all steps of the health care process. A patient will share health status and concerns properly if they trust you. Additionally, they will come back for further care and refer you if they trust you. Communication goes beyond the patient and health care practitioners, it also includes the healthcare professionals and practitioners. From accurately sharing patient information with a group of doctors, nurses, specialists, another facility and other staff at a hospital, to discussing how to treat current and incoming patients, the need for concise, effective communication is required.
4. Listen to your Patients:
Each patient is different. Until you listen to a patient and ask all the important questions to help in your diagnosis, only then will you be able to use your knowledge and experience to deliver quality health care hereby fostering trust in the relationship. Communication is a two-way process. Two-way communication is complete when there is a flow of message from the patient to you and back to the patient.
5. Make each case personal:
As stated earlier every patient is different. A cough in one patient might be different from another patient and might translate to another symptom. Listen to your patient and try to get to know them beyond their medical history. Patients would be more likely to open up and disclose personal information if they trust their pharmacist or healthcare professional, and a better quality of interaction may result in greater patient autonomy and shared decision-making.
Competency is vital in building trusting relationships. Ensure that you are equipped with all the necessary equipment, manpower experience and knowledge.3 This helps to ensure that your patient is getting quality treatment to ensure their wellbeing and promote trust.
7. Partnering with patients versus “treating” patients
Partnering with patients in their care focuses on the relationship between the two parties and recognizes that trust, mutual respect, and sharing of knowledge are needed for the best health outcome. This helps to drive shared decisions, better value, and care improvements. When patients receive clear information about their choices and are allowed an equal decision-maker when choosing their care plan, this helps to build trust with their medical health partner.
Pharmacists and healthcare professionals have a moral obligation to build and maintain trust with patients and represent their profession in a trustworthy manner. Remember that trust is a fragile concept; once interpersonal trust is lost, it is difficult to rebuild.
Follow-up calls and messages can be a good way to re-engage patients or just show that you care.4 The world today is fast transforming into a digital world. Many of today’s patients use the internet as a primary means of communication. The future of healthcare delivery is digital. If you have the option of giving your patients more digital access to you and your team, it is only in your best interest.