Doctor of Physical therapy students should master sincere bedside manner
We know that physical therapists practice in a wide variety of settings from hospitals to private practices. And though this article by Erica Cohen of WebPT emphasizes how appealing to your customer can improve your business, we believe that it is great advice for all physical therapists no matter where they practice.
The following is Cohen’s advice on creating a warm and fuzzy PT environment, which can improve the health of both your patient and your business.
… Make them [patients] feel good about you and your practice. Make patients happy, make them smile, make them laugh, and they’ll remember you fondly. Not only will this help you do better in business, but more importantly, it will also help your patients get better—and maybe make you (and your staff) happier in the process. According to an article on Put Me Back Together (original source: August 2010 issue of the Physical Therapy Journal), patients who perceive their care positively experience better outcomes. This means that practitioners who cater to the “specific needs of their patients” and “provide a positive, collaborative treatment experience” often end up helping their patients recover faster.
With this in mind, here are four ways you can cultivate the warm fuzzies:
1. Always Smile
Smiling—just like yawning—is contagious. And real smiles (those that engage the eyes) can dramatically increase people’s level of happiness. A smile also communicates openness, warmness, and, according to this WebMD article, intelligence. So start smiling—not creepily, just naturally. It’s the first step to building a positive rapport with your patients, which will keep them engaged and feeling encouraged about their therapy experience.
2. Really Listen
While we’re on the subject of building rapport, a good bed—table—side manner means more than just rattling off clinical terms and expecting your patients to do as they’re told. This will most likely backfire for the patient’s rehabilitation, and they’re surely not going to go around telling their friends anything nice about you. So stop talking—and start practicing your active listening skills. Actually hear what your patients want from therapy, what their expectations are, and what their fears are about going through this process. This will help you both get the most out of your experience together.
3. Be Positive
Whether this is in person, online, or anywhere in between, make sure that you are only focusing on the good. Do not slam a competitor, be negative about a patient’s recovery process, or lose control of your body language (eye rolling, frowning, arm-crossing, etc.) Anything that might cause your patients to wonder about the kindness of your heart or feel insecure in their relationship with you will breed whatever the opposite of the warm fuzzies are (cold pricklies?). As a parent or grandparent traditionally says: “if you do not have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” After all, a lot of the recovery process depends upon the patient’s attitude.
4. Go Further
Want to create a good, lasting, memorable impression? Go out of your way to make every patient’s experience wonderful. And you can do so in whatever manner is right for you. Perhaps it’s simply walking your elderly patrons to their cars after a session, opening the door for the mom with a stroller, asking a repeat patron how his son’s baseball game was, putting out fresh flowers in your waiting room, or offering spa-like fruit-infused water to thirsty patients (maybe even using branded cups). Just do something special—something that your patients might walk away from feeling a little bit more warm and fuzzy.
The preceding article was originally posted on WebPT, which provides therapists with comprehensive business tools and reporting.