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Adapting our Communication to the Needs of the Patient

Recognizing the character of patient is a key element in order to properly shape our communication with him. How can we approach him? How will we better manage possible objections or even extreme behaviors?

By identifying key elements of his character and observing his behavior, can we finally achieve it?

Adapting our Communication to the Needs of the Patient.

Restless, stressed, sometimes even aggressive...

The behavior of the patient may vary depending on the personality or the situation in which he is, at the given time. It has also been observed that behavior may vary depending on the point where the patient/customer is located: service bench, confidentiality area, sales area.

In order to achieve basic goals such as understanding the treatment and consequently the compliance with the treatment, we must come close to the patient.

Only then will we be able to adapt with our communication to the person we have in front of us.

Interacting with the patient

The relationship that is been developed between pharmacist-patient, in addition to verbal communication, also includes extra-verbal communication, which is based on posture.   

It should be noted that in the pharmacy area the issue is not only the transmission of information, but also the formation of the appropriate attitude towards the patient-customer, so that he can feel our interest and open up.

This will help us to better understand his needs, so that we can then give the appropriate advice.

As part of the process of understanding the character of the patient, the pharmacist should initially look for the main motivation behind his behavior: security, ease of access, better prices, speed of service, sympathy.

The appraisal of his values and cultural references will make it easier to understand his behavior in order to formulate the specific approach thereafter.

In the same context, before approaching the patient, we should consider his dominant role (child, parent, adult), which becomes apparent during the transaction, in order to better understand his attitude.

Age and marital status are directly related to a person's behavior, his way of speaking, his needs, but also his way of interacting with a Partner.

The pharmacist should therefore avoid adopting a common model of behavior and apply in his strategy an individualized approach, depending on the person opposite him.

In order to create a climate of confidence and understanding of what is conducive to the monitoring of treatment, the pharmacist, knowing the situation, should address everyone in a different way.

This approach, however, requires the right communication skills.

Choose how you communicate

Indeed, the relationship with the patient demands the use of the appropriate language that is easily perceived, without scientific terms, as well as an attitude that will not seem dominant.

So, making the communication easier and more accessible, is necessary.

It is also advisable avoiding phrases such as: "It is necessary... ", "You must..", but to use phrases that concern the patient, such as: "In case, will you get…"

In this way, the patient will feel your intimacy and interest.

The mention of the word "I", it would be good to avoid it. Similarly, impersonal pronouns "we" and "he", it is proposed to avoid them, as they create distance in communication.

Another piece of advice is to avoid using words in a negative sense, such as: "Your problem…".

Finally, at the rewording stage, prefer the expression "I was in agreement with what you told me, you need something that... (you mention the benefit) ...". That means that the patient was heard.

Take a step back

Being confronted with a patient who is anxious or even angry because he waited a long time to be served, aggressive because of the frustration of a treatment to no avail or because of the adverse effects, the pharmacist should appropriately formulate the approach in order to avoid unpleasant situations and conflicts.

He must avoid getting into the patient's dialectics and for no reason imitate his aggressive behavior. In this case, he should take a step back.

In order to defuse the discontent, the pharmacist should first of all reassure the person, using typical sentences, such as: "You are right, I understand" or such as: "What happened?".  

This attitude will also help you to manage the tension, avoid escalating the conflict and follow a path of reconciliation.

Identify the needs of the patient

Adapting our behavior to the patient, is not only necessary for a better relationship and compliance with medication.

Communication and approach should be shaped, both during the service and advice, as well as in the sales sector.

The pharmacist and the pharmacy team should formulate their attitude according to the attitude of the patient. Experts emphasize that it is no longer only the product or the price, but also the ability to attract and retain customers that determines the success of a pharmacy!

The person serving should have the ability to see and analyze the behavior of the patient, but also to identify the needs, according to a specific typology. For example, a young woman will need more beauty advice, a mother advice regarding the care of her baby, the elderly diabetic will need help with daily measurements of glucose, etc.

What should we do in case of an aggressive behavior by a patient?

The attitude we must adopt is neutrality. Because the patient is entitled to express his concern by expressing an objection or doubt, for example with regard to a generic medicine.

When a patient shows signs of nervousness or aggression, we should try to isolate him in a private space and talk to him.

Also important is the control of our gestures and the tone of our voice in order to maintain our composure.  

Humor is also an important "card that we can play", treating a person with irritation and aggression.

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