I work in community practice and want to make my patients feel comfortable with me during their eye examinations. I would like them to be relaxed and to trust me. Do you have any tips?
I’m good at making most of the patients I examine feel comfortable and relaxed when I examine them in the practice or in their own homes.
I know this because patients tell me, their relatives tell me, support staff tells me and patients tell the support staff.
I know what it’s like to seek the opinion of medical (general practitioner) and para-medical practitioners (dentists and pharmacists) and these encounters can cause anxiety.
I have also learned from patients what upsets them.
‘My doctor speaks too quickly and I can’t understand her.’
‘My doctor speaks too quietly and I can’t understand him.’
‘My dentist always seems in a rush.’
‘My pharmacist never says hello or goodbye.’
‘My physiotherapist never looks at me when he is talking’.
I’ve also realised from my own experience and failures what works and what doesn’t.
This is how I handle a patient encounter.
I always call them by their family name and make sure I have their correct title (Mrs, Mr, Ms, Miss, Dr, or Prof.
Most importantly when I first talk to a patient I always smile. Not a huge grin with my teeth on show but with a friendly smile.
When in practice or in the patient’s home I move slowly and always look at the person’s face when I’m speaking. This is respectful but also helps people who don’t hear well as they can look at my lips moving and couple that with the words they hear.
I speak slowly and clearly looking for their body language to see if they have understood what I have said or not.
When I make notes I make notes and don’t speak. I advise the patient I’m making notes.
I make small talk about the weather, traffic, and such like.
I move slowly during the eye examination and warn patients before turning off the lights or getting close with equipment.
I put forward explanations for any symptoms they are experiencing and signs they make see.
I make clear recommendations.
‘Your eyes have changed and you need stronger lenses. It’s not a huge change but enough to cause the problems with your vision that you mention. I advise varifocal lenses so you can see in the distance and read with the same glasses. I also advise an anti-reflection coating so your lenses look good and to allow extra light to help your vision even more. Thinner and lighter lenses will help ease the pressure on your nose.
There are no eye diseases and your eyes look healthy.
Do you have any questions you want to ask me?
Shall we take a look at some new frames?
It’s been very nice to meet you and I look forward to seeing you at your next eye examination.’
This seems to work very well for me and my feedback confirms this.