4 ways to foster employee-patient bonds

By Kaitlin Morrison-Greenlund

Strong physician-patient relationships are integral to a successful practice. But the bonds that employees build with patients are just as important to delivering top-notch customer service and fostering patient loyalty, according to an article from Physicians Practice.

"Advanced practice providers are doing many of the things that physicians used to do and there's a growing recognition by patients of the role of the support staff in their care," Julie Boisen, managing director for Navigant Consulting's Healthcare practice, told the publication. "Practices need to look beyond the physician relationship because every member of the staff has a role in serving the patient."

This idea echoes recent comments by Ellie Rajcevich, a practice development advisor with the American Medical Association, suggesting that team-based care isn't just about extra clinicians sharing the physicians' load, but also ensuring that employees throughout the office forge their own connections with patients.

The foundation of strong teams is their communication strategy, FiercePracticeManagement reported previously. Teams that communicate well with one another are then better-equipped to build trust with patients.

To build this level of trust and cooperation, practices must prioritize the following four team-building concepts:

  • Set clear expectations of customer service and quality care
  • Promote teamwork by planning the upcoming day with the entire staff
  • Reduce patient complaints by planning ahead
  • Respond positively to complaints by taking action

While reducing the number of patient complaints is ideal, responding well to complaints is an important component of providing quality care, Physicians Practice noted.

A morning huddle is one of many opportunities practices can take to enhance a team's effectiveness, and also a key part of how the patient-centered medical home model involves staff in pre-planning for patient appointments.

"In the morning huddle we go through our day and identify patients who might need more time or a different approach," Mott Blair IV, M.D., told Physicians Practice. "We also identify our staffing needs for that particular day, such as a patient educator for our diabetes patients," added Blair, a family physician at Vidant Family Medicine in Wallace, North Carolina.

The best teams embrace continuous improvement by constantly learning and applying new insights, FierceHealthcare has reported previously. Building a strong team starts with the hiring process and continues as each member learns how to contribute, delegate to other members and be proud of their team.

To learn more:
- read the article