In order to remain a trustworthy source in your patient’s health care, communication is key. Most importantly, the communication needs to be patient-centered which means you need to provide a friendly environment for your diverse clientele. Below are some tips on how to improve communication with your patients:
1. Communication Options
To accommodate each of your patients and their knowledge of health terms and information, you should have multiple outlets of communication. The two forms of communication are verbal and written.
• Verbal communication might be the most obvious method. Through this method, you can talk to your clients directly about their medications and any question that they might have whether it be in person or over the phone. It is important to note here that your patients know you are always available for them even if you need to call them back at a later time.
• Written communication can also provide a broader range of communication including educational brochures or email conversations. This method is a great way to discuss more specific topics or to help educate your patients who may have language barriers. It might also be a good method to discuss sensitive topics that your patients might not want to publicize in your pharmacy.
2. Simplify Communication
When you are providing information to your patients, you should try and keep the topics as simple as possible. Each of your patients will have a different knowledge base so you want to adhere to all. Some ways to simplify your communication are:
• Use plain language that everyone can understand
• Avoid medical abbreviations
• Give specific examples rather than broad instructions
• Utilize visual aids when available
• Limit yourself to three main points to ensure easier memory (use written communication if more points are needed)
3. Confirm Understanding
After feeding your patient information, rather than asking if they understand, use the “Teach Back” method. This method works by asking them to demonstrate their knowledge, so you know that they fully understand.
4. Encourage Questions
When asking for questions, open-ended questions are always better. You can ask what you need to clarify better or what questions they have rather than the basic yes/no questions. While it may not seem like it’s a big difference, open-ended questions are a great way to encourage more useful answers.
5. Provide Contact Information
While pharmacy contact information should always be readily available to patients, it is a good idea to point out where they can find that information just in case they have any other questions or concerns. Whether you provide a business card, point out the pharmacy number on their prescription, or write down a phone number or email, this will give our patients a more personalized experience.
6. Ensure Comfortability
It may seem like common sense, but it is important to ensure your patients feel comfortable talking to you. This can be done by providing a safe and friendly environment for your patients. Always let your patients know that you are happy to discuss their questions and as mentioned above, include a personalized experience. Get to know your patients to show that you care about their health and that you are there to help them.