Practice Management - Building Patient Confidence

By Sharon Smith
Tuesday, 13 October, 2015

How to give your patients confidence when working with you – long before you meet them face to face.
Jane Anderson is a Personal Branding Expert helping service professionals to position themselves effectively in their industry. Here Jane shares her advice for medical professionals managing their own practices on establishing trust between patient and doctor before the first meeting. 
In 2010 my friend Bridgette’s grandmother needed an operation on her shoulder. Her grandmother lived in Newcastle in NSW and her parents lived in South Africa.
Whilst she had received the referral to the specialist by her GP, her family in South Africa were very concerned.  As a result, they did some research online to ensure that she was going to receive the right level of care.  However, this became difficult as they couldn't find a lot of background information on the specialist. As a result, they felt pretty nervous, unsure and lacked confidence with the level care their grandmother would receive.  This also placed a lot of pressure on Bridgette’s Grandmother as she faced a large amount of questioning from her family - most of which she didn't have the answers to!
According to Forbes magazine, 60% of a decision to work with you is made before someone makes contact.
As a health practitioners though, you may feel like you don’t want to do any work on marketing and branding yourself. You may just believe your main focus should be on patient care and your specialty to focus on referrals. You may be concerned about the guidelines from the Medical Board of Australia and ACCC guidelines.
The relevant section of the national law states that health services must not be advertised in a way that:

  • Is false, misleading or deceptive or is likely to be misleading or deceptive

  • Offers a gift, discount, or other inducement to attract a person to use the service or the business, unless the advertisement also sets out the terms and conditions of the offer

  • Uses testimonials or purported testimonials about the service or business

  • Creates an unreasonable expectation of beneficial treatment

  • Directly or indirectly encourages the indiscriminate or unnecessary use of regulated health services.

The challenge though, is by focusing only  on compliance, we may end up looking like toothpaste on a supermarket shelf, the same as everyone else, with  patients flying blind.  Yes, it can feel safer and easier to do nothing.  However, without information for your patients, they may just end up feeling vulnerable and anxious.
Carl Jung , the Swiss Psychologist and Psychotherapist identified there are two types of personality types when making decisions. One is head based and the other is heart based. Head based being they make decisions based on logic, outcomes and results. Heart based being they make decisions on feeling, emotions and values. So with this in mind, it is beneficial to give confidence to both types of  patients seeing you. Some of the ways you can do that are:

  1. Share information on community health risks on your website. Create the information once and record it in writing, a video and an audio version. Not everyone has good eyesight or is literate. This will help your patient feel like they’re already in a consultation with you and have had a chance to get to know you.  It will also make it easy for a referring GP to get a feel for you and help their patient have trust in their own GP that they have been referred to the right person. People want to feel like they’re going to be cared for, not just how technically competent you are.

  2. Create your domain name with Have a page with your research and you have undertaken, a blog where you can disseminate that research for patients. Ensure you face is easily visible and smile. This will help patients feel more at ease at a time when they feel most vulnerable.

  3. LinkedIn Profile- This is a way to have a professional presence online and connect to others in the medical field. This will allow more transparency and build trust with you patients as you can be easily validated. You can add your publications, posters and other research and will help position you effectively in the mind of referring doctors, patients and their families.

jane andersonJane Anderson is a speaker, author and mentors doctors to get onto specialist training programs. She works closely with the Australian Medical Association and speaks at their annual QLD conference.

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