Over the last few weeks, I've been writing about improving and taking control of your relationship with your doctor, especially in terms of communication. Aside from your doctor, how is your relationship and communication with your doctor's staff?
When you call your doctor's office, do you know the staff who answer the phone by name? Is there a main person who answers the phone, or is it a large practice with many individuals fielding calls? If there is only one or two people who answer the phones, are you on a first-name basis with them? Do they know you? Do you know them? How's your rapport?
When you visit your doctor's office, do you feel like the staff know who you are? Do you feel recognized, or do you feel like just another number?
Building Relationships and Rapport
My doctor's office is small. There's the doctor, a physician's assistant, a nurse practitioner, a few medical assistants, and two people at the front desk. Over time, I'm trying to remember everyone's names, and I'm working on creating a positive relationship with the staff with whom I interact.
These relationships are important, mostly because the office staff---especially the front office and those who answer the phones---are the "gatekeepers" to the practice. These individuals basically run the practice, and without them it would all likely just fall apart. They're the front line, and sometimes they're the key to actually getting what you want.
Thus, having a positive rapport with the office staff and support staff assists you in many ways, including having your requests expedited, getting your needs met, and being more recognizable to the staff when you call or visit the office.
If you want to not feel like just another patient, nurture your relationships with the staff. This doesn't mean you bring flowers and donuts when you visit. It actually means that you treat those staff members like important members of your medical team, showing them respect, consideration and kindness while expecting the same in return. These relationships are nurtured through good will, and they can truly serve you and your healthcare needs.
It's All In Service to Your Health
Building relationships, nurturing connections, generating respect, and adding a personal touch to these relationships can go a long way toward improving the quality of your healthcare. The next time you visit your doctor's office, take note of who works there, what their names are, how you're treated, and how you treat them. Begin to nurture those relationships and build positive rapport. You can then reap the benefits over time as those relationships improve, along with the quality of your care.