Communication – everything but words

Communication is not just about the words that come out of your mouth it’s about the whole patient journey from their first contact with your patient to your last.

We have previously considered consent and complaints and I have stated several times how communication is key to good consent and complaints processes. The OPS begins with communication as this forms the basis for demonstrating good practice standards.

You communicate your standards through every aspect of your practice – the information on your website, your branding, your advertisements, social media, your response to enquiries, the communication when your patient makes their first appointment, the ease of access to your premises, the environment you practice in, the tidiness of your practice, the whole consultation process – history, examination, treatment, selfcare advice, follow up information and advice. The way your clinic looks, the way you look, the language you use – all communicate with your patients.

This blog is going to consider your non-verbal communication and then over the next few weeks we will consider your verbal communication.

Reflect on your communication

Is it consistent?

A good way to improve your communication can be to put yourself in the shoes of a patient and go through all the processes in your clinic. Alternatively for a different perspective you could ask a colleague or friend to go trough the process.

How do the processes work? – is the process smooth?

Is there a consistent standard of communication?

Are there any improvements that could be made?

What does your practice communicate? Is it what you want to communicate?

What are your practice values? Are you consistently demonstrating them wherever possible?

Look for areas to improve

Are there areas that you could improve – your ‘uniform’, your clinic room, website, leaflets?

If your practice room has become untidy maybe you need to take a couple of hours to tidy up. Perhaps you need to do some decorating or a deep clean? Can your associates or staff highlight areas that could be improved?

Are there any areas of frustration for patients?

Do you need to respond faster to patient messages? Is it time you had a receptionist or telephone answering service?

An area that springs to mind for me is that I could improve the access for patients to the building. They need to use a buzzer to enter the building but it doesn’t work to ring through to my room, only the main reception and doesn’t always get responded to immediately. This is an action I can take to improve my clinic.

Repeat on a regular basis

This is not something to do once and then forget but it is important to return to it at regular intervals and think about how you could improve your practice communication. Remove any inconsistency, make sure every aspect of your practice projects the message you want to communicate. Identify communication barriers, improvements and opportunities.

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