Time and health are two ever-more precious commodities, and effective doctor-patient management can improve both. In the health sector, patients are the customers, and keeping them happy has to be a priority of the doctors and the health practitioners involved.
What is doctor-patient management?
Let’s first get to know what it means to manage patients.
The medical dictionary defines patient management as the description of all the interactions between patients and the health care personnel from the time of their intake to discharge.
Therefore, doctor-patient management is how doctors interact and treat their patients. This starts with their communication, empathy, examination, and evaluation intervention. Also, to the diagnosis of the patients, especially in managing time for faster service provision.
In other words, it would mean how the doctor plans, generate, and organize care and services that are deemed necessary to their patients in time.
Also how well doctors relate to their patients.
How can doctors build a better relationship with their patients?
For patients to effectively discuss their issues, they will have to trust their doctors. As a doctor, therefore, you need to give your patients reasons to trust you.
How do you do that?
Building a rapport
Ensure you established a rapport from the beginning of your conversation. Make the patients understand that you are genuinely there for them to help them get better.
When the patients feel they can trust their doctors, they will find it easy to comply with the doctor’s guidelines, saving time and improving their health.
Limit interruptions and disruptions
Everybody wants to be listened to and have the feeling of being a priority. You don’t need to be taking phone calls, answering messages, or using any distractive gadgets during your sessions with the patients.
Let your patient feel they are your priority of the day. If this happens, they will be free to share their problems, saving you time when you know what to handle.
Respect your patients’ autonomy
An effective doctor-patient relationship is built when they feel the moral and legal arguments of patients’ autonomy are respected. Therefore, as a doctor, you should never force a patient into making any decision; rather, their decisions should be independent.
Your work is to be honest and provide a genuine assessment to your patient but let the decision be based on them. And if you want to do what is best for your patients, then let them make an informed consent.
Understand your professional boundaries
As much as you want to help your patient, you should avoid behaviors that may transgress your professional boundaries’ limits with the patients.
However, you should be able to define your boundaries from infringing on the patient’s personal life. Besides, you don’t need to burden your clients with your emotional problems; neither do you need to develop feelings of attraction for your client.
Additionally, in building a good relationship with a patient, you have some sense of empathy.
As much as you are not expected to develop feelings, it would be best to let your patient know that you understand their symptomatic experiences and feelings. Empathy is about emotion and caring, and it ensures the therapeutic effect on individuals.
What are the models of doctor-patient management?
This is a model where the patient has no role apart from seeking assistance. The doctor is the one to formulate the decision the patient is to follow. The patient does not necessarily have to consent to the decision made.
The model is, however, not recommended for specific health conditions like chronic diseases.
It can also be associated with the paternalistic approach- where the doctor dominates the interrogation, and the patient is only expected to comply. The patient is passive and has no control.
It is believed that the doctor is the guardian to promote the patients’ health condition.
The guidance-cooperation model
This model ensures the doctor acts as the technical expert and recommends treatment for their patients.
They provide appropriate and factual information. The patient with lesser power and knowledge will have to follow the recommendations given.
Mutual participation model
In this model, the doctor and the patient share the decision-making responsibility. They together plan the course of the treatment, and in the process, they respect each other’s values and perceptions.
This is the most effective model of doctor-patient management that best suits chronic diseases.
What should a doctor do to ensure timely patient management?
You’ll have to admit that there could be some situations where doctors or specialists cannot attend to all their clients’ numerous needs.
But what would be the best approach to give?
Offer effective doctor-patient communication.
Much of patients’ dissatisfactions are always associated with either lack of or communication breakdown within the doctor-patient relationship.
Why effective communication?
Every person would want to be treated well and on time. For that to happen, the doctors have to actively involve their patients in constant communication.
Effective doctor-patient communication enhances an excellent interpersonal relationship, facilitates the exchange of information, and ensures the patients are included in the decision-making process.
But how does it impact doctor-patient’s time?
In most cases, patient outcomes depend on successful communication.
The doctor who encourages open communication with his/her patient may obtain more and complete information in good time to enhance a more prospective diagnosis. This then ensures appropriate counseling and timely adherence to treatment plans.
Learn to prioritize
For effective time management in all the life sectors, prioritization must be critical. Therefore doctors too have to plan their activities. They need to have a clear idea of what and when to attend to specific patients. This allows them to devote enough time to each of their patients.
As a doctor, you need to immediately check your list to your works station and ensure you post it at your prominent position. The plan will help you stay on track, and you can adjust it as needed. Besides, you are required to value your time- you can’t spend the whole day soothing patients. If you do that, you’ll risk mishandling other patients.
Additionally, you can invest in a clinical management system to help plan clinical appointments and procedures for follow-up activities.
Take advantage of the technology.
Technology comes in handy with several advantages, and the doctor-patient relationship is no exception.
How can technology boost doctor-patient management?
Engaging patients remotely
Health conditions like chronically ill patients would require the doctor to engage their patients remotely.
Instead of the patients moving to the hospitals to have appointments with their doctors, the hospitals could have an online patient portal. Here the patient would log in, book, cancel, or reschedule appointments via e-device.
They would be able to view their lab reports and test results through the guidance of their doctors. This would significantly reduce too much congestion experienced in doctor’s offices.
Besides, e-devices will help:
Reduce real-time query handling
Imagine a situation where several patients want to consult a doctor. At the same time, the doctor had to attend to some emergencies. The patients would have to wait for a longer time to see the doctor for the questions.
However, e-devices would ensure the risk of workflow delay as a result of real-time question-answering is reduced. The patients will log in to the hospital and doctors page and then ask questions in the comfort of their homes.
Additionally, doctors can connect and monitor their patients or offer the best medical advice through video conferencing.
In other words, technology ensures operational efficiency by providing easy, secure, and automated reports, and lesser time is involved in juggling administrative paperwork.
Request for some assistance
As a doctor, sometimes you may be overwhelmed with work. There may be too many patients whom you have to attend to within a limited time. Therefore, it would be best if you have somebody to help you.
For efficient and effective doctor-patient management, you’ll have to delegate some duties to a nurse or some health practitioners, depending on the nature of work you have.
You can consider activities or responsibilities that soak up a lot of time, such as registering, and updating patients’ cards, among others. Let others do them to get enough time to attend to the patients’ problems.
In other words, getting your team involved is critical to achieving effective time management and enhancing the smooth running of your medical practice.
Learn to say NO
As a doctor, you may be overwhelmed by several patients. To be effective in tour operations, you need to be realistic and practical.
Be able to follow your schedule so that your workload and the ability to devote adequate time to your patients do not get affected.
When the doctor-patient management involves competence, effective communication, and appropriate use of technology, both parties are to save time and be satisfied.
Therefore, doctors should ensure they relate well with their patients, cultivate trust, respect their patients’ autonomy, and finally define their professional boundaries.