Communication with the patient is an essential part of good clinical practice. Patients can provide valuable feedback that can significantly influence treatment choices and outcomes. Hence, a doctor’s ability to build good communication with the patient is crucial. One way to ensure that you maintain good communication skills with your patients is by hiring a communication coach.
Hiring a communication coach means investing in improving your communication skills. Healthcare apps This is a simple decision, and you would not have to look much further than your local medical facility for a qualified communication coach. However, don’t take the first recommendation you get for a communication coach. Once you’ve selected a communication coach, it is essential to set a schedule for sessions.
During your first session with your new communication coach, expect to be grilled about your practice and patient populations. This initial session aims to familiarize the coach with your practice and the services you provide. The coach should also have a clear understanding of your patient population and any special considerations they may have as patients with special needs. The first meeting should not be particularly long or detailed; it should simply introduce communication coaching.
Communication sessions – regardless of the frequency – should remain patient-centered. This means that the coach must address the patient’s concerns and fears while keeping the focus on the therapy’s overall goals. For example, you might begin discussing your upcoming patient population by sharing your firm’s vision for the patient-coach relationship and discussing potential patient populations that need special considerations due to their medical histories, demographics, etc. Likewise, beginning the sessions – before any other treatment – should be considered “off-limits” areas. For example, the discussion regarding initial treatment may be off-limits if the patient has expressed a prior history of depression, substance abuse, or other mental health issues.
Good communication skills require the coach to listen compassionately to the patient’s responses and words. This allows the coach to model appropriate behaviors and convey the patient’s right message as needed. It is also essential for the coach and the patient to establish rapport early in the session. Without such a foundation, the relationship between the patient and the coach becomes tenuous at best, and the desired goals are challenging to achieve. In general, it is helpful for the patient to begin the session with an explanation of his/her goals; then, as the session progresses, the patient can openly ask the coach questions that relate to his/her specific needs. Once rapport has been established, open-ended questions can lead to specific patient-related outcomes.
All of this leads us to the very obvious: we must always communicate our coaching expectations to the patient. If you’re not speaking the outcomes your coaching is designed to achieve, you are not genuinely coaching – you’re reacting. This is a critical component to building good communication skills for inpatients. Still, you must make sure that you’re actively communicating your expectations to the patient throughout the entire coaching process.