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Strong relationships improve patient engagement -- and physician satisfaction.

Building relationships with patients doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming.

Here, physicians offer their own simple, exam room-tested tips.

Drs. Benjamin Snell, Michael McGee, Justin Roberts, Shanthi Sivendran and Vito DiCamillo

Benjamin R. Snell, M.D., Managing Physician at LG Health Physicians Family Medicine Twin Rose, adds something pertinent about each patient’s social history to his visit note. He reviews his last note before he sees the patient again.
“I will often have an opportunity to ask ‘How was that trip to the beach?’ or ‘How did your son’s baseball season go?’ or simply ‘Did you get to see your grandmother over Thanksgiving?’ ” Dr. Snell said.

“I think this builds rapport with patients and gives me greater insight into their daily lives as we work together to see the best outcomes for their health.”

Managing Physician Michael J. McGee, M.D., said providers at Family Medicine New Holland conclude an office visit by following a loose “script.” This includes stating the diagnosis; what the recommended tests are looking for; how and when results will be communicated; what treatment is expected to do and over what time period; and when to call the office.

“We finish up by asking, ‘Is there anything else about today’s office visit you wish to ask me?’ ’’ he said.

Justin Roberts, D.O., said The Heart Group has taken a number of steps to improve patient engagement, including a curriculum that highlights simple changes related to physician behaviors.

For example, he said, knocking and asking permission to enter a room is a better approach than just knocking. Closing a door or curtain “for your privacy” makes a statement and shows respect for the patient. Sitting down and asking the patient to teach back what they’ve just heard also improves engagement.

“Although we think we do an excellent job with each individual patient encounter, everyone has something to learn or change,” Dr. Roberts said. “One simple change per week provides a lot of changes over the course of the year.”

Shanthi Sivendran, M.D., of LG Health Physicians Hematology & Oncology Medical Specialists, observes dedicated colleagues in both her own and other specialties in family meetings, office encounters and at the hospital.
“I try to pick up tidbits and phrases along the way to incorporate into my own practice to continually work on improving the way I deliver care and interact with patients,” she said.

Vito DiCamillo, M.D., Managing Physician, LG Health Urgent Care, makes a conscious effort to separate his clinical and administrative time – and to put on his “game face” before seeing patients.

“I take a deep breath before I go into the room and try to be in the moment,” he said.

Dr. DiCamillo takes his patient engagement scores seriously and notices a definite correlation when he’s not focused on seeing patients. He even sets his email auto-reply to tell people he is seeing patients and won’t be able to respond until he has free non-clinical time. 

“Patients want to get in and out of the office. They want to pay a reasonable price. They want to see somebody who knows what they are doing,” he said. “They want you treat them like you would treat your own family member or friend.

“This is how I approach each patient.”

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