Building patient rapport – simple but vital
In today’s society, building patient rapport is essential for all dental professionals. If a patient likes their professional team, they are more likely to trust and follow their advice. Consequently, they benefit from improved oral health. They are also more likely come back. Not only does this ensure continuity of their care, but it is also rewarding for the clinician.
Views from the ground
Dr Huma Younis from Victoria Promenade Dental Practice shares some of the effects of good patient rapport.
“A good rapport with a patient is probably the key to success in all aspects of my working life,” she says. “It adds enjoyment to my work when patients respond to the effort I am putting in and value the work that I do. It also highlights the fact that I am not only a dental professional, but also a human being. I believe that many patients dehumanise dentists as a result of misconceptions or past bad experiences. A good rapport puts a better image in their mind, helping to put them at ease.”
Many professionals share this passion for changing perceptions of dentistry among the population. After all, the clinical team is there to support patients and help them live happy, healthy lives. That should be a very positive message.
A continuous process
As such, establishing good rapport is a vital starting point whenever a new patient presents. There are several simple ways of doing this, as Huma goes on to share:
“Firstly, good report doesn’t start in the dental surgery. It starts with the phone call to make the appointment and with whoever the patient speaks to when they visit the practice. Secondly, it’s a continuous process. This means building on the relationship every time the patient attends.
“Even in my experience so far, I have found regular appointments and something as simple as a smile helps to build rapport. In addition, it’s always good to under-promise and over-deliver!
“One trick I have found particularly useful is to provide a normal chair in the surgery room. Patients quickly understand that this provides a consulting area. If they come to their appointment and sit in the normal chair, I know they want a chat. If they sit in the dental chair, they are ready to proceed with the appointment.”
In the end, effectively building patient rapport requires only a few simple steps in most cases. However, the outcome can be far-reaching and beneficial for both patient and practitioner.
Simple steps to building patient rapport:
- Speak to the patient face-to-face
- Use eye contact
- Give them the opportunity to share concerns or ask questions
- Explain treatment in simple language they understand
- Be positive and offer support
- Be polite and non-judgemental