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The challenges of forming solid doctor-patient relationships

There are many relationships that are very impactful for a doctor during the course of their career. This includes their relationship with their patients.

As a recent survey underscores, it is not uncommon for doctor-patient relationships to be quite long-lasting in nature. The survey was of over 1,000 U.S. adults. Over four out of five of the respondents reported an ongoing relationship with their physician. The average length of the doctor-patient relationships of the respondents was 9.4 years.

Now, there are challenges doctors can face when it comes to forming solid long-term relationships with their patients, including:

  • Challenges with making a good first impression. The survey’s results indicate that patients put a lot of stake in first impressions when it comes to doctors and that there are a wide range of doctor behaviors patients might put under the microscope during a first visit.
  • Low likelihood of getting a second chance after making a bad impression. A majority of the survey respondents said that when it comes to giving second chances, they were more likely to give them to dates than to doctors.
  • Difficulties in maintaining the relationship once it is formed. Around four in 10 of the survey respondents said that it is easier to maintain a long-term romantic relationship than it is a long-term doctor relationship.

The quality of their relationships with patients can have all sorts of implications for a doctor. So, how physicians respond to the above challenges can matter quite a bit. What tips would you give for building strong doctor-patient relationships?

Another class of relationship that can be incredibly impactful on a doctor is their relationship with their employer. One thing that is a very big factor in this relationship is the doctor’s employment contract. The terms of this contract can have all sorts of impacts on how this relationship goes and what options and rights a doctor has over the course of this relationship. Given this, employment contract negotiations are one of the situations in which good legal guidance can be a very important thing for physicians to have.

Source: Healthcare Finance, “Long-term relationships with physicians are highly valued, but challenging, Zocdoc survey shows,” Beth Jones Sanborn, Feb. 14, 2017

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