Rafael E. Salazar II, MHS, OTR/L started Rehab U Practice Solutions in 2017 with a single mission: to radically change the way clinicians do business. Healthcare in the US is broken, with regulations and third party payers constantly changing the game while clinicians work to the point of burnout and apathy. Who does this hurt the most? The patients. Rafeal has been working as a consultant helping private practices craft the ultimate patient experience by maximizing patient retention.
In this episode we discuss:
- Effectively communicating with patients with the help of the Transtheoretical Model of Change. For example, the first stage is the precontemplative stage. If a patient says, “I’m not sure why I’m here”, “I’m only here because my doctor told me to.”, etc, you need to recognize that and tailor your initial interview to educate them instead of diving right into the clinical work. The model is all about guiding patients through the stages of change to maximize communication and in turn, their willingness to work with you and attend therapy.
- Much of the research done on patient experience, patient engagement, and their subjective feelings on the quality of care they are receiving shows that these things have very little to do with the provider’s clinical skills. It has way more to do with communication and interpersonal skills. Being an OK clinician with great interpersonal skills will get you happier patients than a great clinician with a terrible bedside manner. These “soft skills” are often the most difficult to cultivate, as they are not directly addressed in school. Some examples include: active listening, empathy, being friendly, warm and inviting, encouragement, non verbal communication. What patients expect is an empathetic person on the other side of the treatment table above all else.
- Difficult patients – Rafael explains that many times “difficult patients” are so because they believe they are not being heard. If they are not engaged or are non compliant, they may not feel listened to by that clinic or provider
- Be careful with documentation during the first visit. If you are typing away during the initial interview, your non verbal communication / body language is saying that your documentation is more important than their problems.
- Match your patients on their emotional and communication level – If you are an extrovert working with an introverted patient or vice versa, it will be difficult or uncomfortable to get your point across or begin to cultivate an effective patient / provider relationship. Modulating your emotions and expressions to match your patient will yield better results.
- You will not communicate well with everyone. If you notice a communication disconnect despite your best efforts, it may be best for that patient to see another provider. The patient might even applaud your honesty and wishes to put their care above your pride.
- Unicorn OT roles – there is opportunity everywhere to jump into non traditional OT roles, but you have to assess your tolerance of risk. Looking for or creating other types of roles is not for everyone and might make some clinicians uneasy. If your personal, family, and financial circumstances allow it, it is ok to take some risks with your career to create or search for the kind of roles you wish to fill.