Guest Post

5 Ways to Improve Patient Communication and Build Trust

May 9, 2024

8 mins read

Manisha Khandelwal

Quality healthcare depends on effective communication, as proven by staggering statistics. Over 70% of medical errors are caused by poor communication, costing billions annually. Studies show that patients who have a good relationship with their doctors are more likely to follow their treatment plans, improving health outcomes and satisfaction.

The art of building patient trust is often lost in the noise of selling products and services. Trust is key to successful healthcare delivery. It’s about building trust and empathy, not just treating.

Trust-building is crucial in a world where patient loyalty can make or break a clinic. This article will discuss five effective ways to build patient trust and improve healthcare communication. Anecdotal and empirical evidence support these methods, which form the foundation of long-term patient-provider relationships. Here are 5 ways to build patient communication:

5 Ways to Improve Patient Communication

1. Be Attentive

Listen carefully and attentively to everything. By doing so, you can establish a rapport with the patient, earn their trust, and have meaningful conversations about treatment. Never stop thinking about the next question you want to ask.

2. Ask Open-Ended Questions

Always begin with an open-ended question. Patients will frequently talk about what is currently on their minds, and when this is addressed, they can relax and be receptive to other topics that they may need to discuss during the session.

Example: Let Sarah, a patient, enter a doctor’s office with chronic pain. The doctor begins the consultation with a simple but powerful question: “Sarah, tell me about your experience with the pain you’ve been feeling.”

Sarah can describe the physical and emotional effects of this open-ended question on her daily life. Sarah shares her struggles, fears, and goals after feeling heard. The doctor listens and validates her concerns as she recounts her journey.

This conversation helps the doctor understand Sarah’s condition beyond symptoms. Hidden psychological factors, lifestyle challenges, and personal goals may affect Sarah’s treatment plan. The doctor builds trust and empowers Sarah to participate in her healthcare by addressing her concerns.

Open-ended questions encourage meaningful communication and patient-provider collaboration. It sets the stage for holistic care that values patients’ voices. Asking leads to greater understanding, empathy, and better health outcomes.

3. Be Aware of Your Patient’s situation

It is important to be aware of what is going on in their life; perhaps they have recently experienced a loss or are providing care for someone who is physically ill. How you manage the patient will be influenced by the holistic assessment that you perform on them.

4. Use the right tone

It is essential to use language that is straightforward and succinct without “talking down” to patients. One of the most important aspects of communication is non-verbal communication because it conveys a sense of warmth and empathy, enabling the patient to open up.

Wrong Tone: Imagine a scenario where a patient, John, visits a clinic for a routine check-up. As he expresses concern about his symptoms, the healthcare provider responds in a dismissive and condescending tone, saying, “Oh, don’t worry, it’s probably nothing serious. You’re just overreacting.”

Right Tone: Contrastingly, in a similar scenario, the healthcare provider responds with empathy and warmth, acknowledging John’s concerns while providing reassurance. They say, “I understand that these symptoms can be concerning. Let’s take a closer look together to make sure everything is okay. Your health is important, and I’m here to support you every step of the way.”

5. Involve Friends and Family

Ensure that patients who are experiencing more complex situations are accompanied by their peers. When people are by themselves and under a lot of pressure, it can be difficult for them to remember everything that has been said and to see the situation from all angles. To help them reflect on the issues and investigate their options, family or friends can be of assistance. 

If I am confronted with a challenging consultation, I will inquire about the arrival time of the patient’s relatives and then wait until they arrive before having a conversation with them.

5 Ways to Build Trust with Patients

1. Transparency Builds Patient Trust

Medical billing solutions for doctors and treatment must prioritize transparency. But what does healthcare transparency entail? According to the Institute of Medicine, it involves providing reliable and understandable information on healthcare systems’ quality, efficiency, and price, inclusive of quality data.

Transparency in Treatment and Services:

  • Details on services and treatment should be readily available.
  • All information must be current and accurate.
  • Patients should be informed about any treatment or medication limitations, including potential side effects, along with proposed solutions.

Transparency in Pricing or Billing:

  • Making prices publicly accessible.
  • Providing itemized bills upon patient request.
  • Offering clarity on insurance coverage and payment details.
  • Pricing structures should be simplified for easy understanding.

Transparency serves as the foundation of patient trust. Access to pricing and treatment information enables patients to make informed decisions, aiding them in selecting appropriate healthcare plans. By understanding pricing and insurance coverage, patients can better budget and prepare, ultimately granting them a degree of control over their healthcare decisions.

2. Create a Patient-Centric Approach

Harvard Business Review reports that 14% of marketers say their company is patients-centric. Only 11% believe patients will agree. 

Why are the above statistics so low if patient-centric business is successful? 

Since patients-centric business values are harder to implement, Most companies that promote patient-centricity do just that with Preaching. It’s hard to match company values with patient values. Empathy at all business levels is essential for patient-centricity.

What does this mean?

As a business, empathy means understanding:

  • Your client’s actions
  • What caused them

Understanding patients’ nuances helps you predict their needs. A consumer-centric business builds its brand on patients’ expectations to provide the best patient experience.

3. Seek And Act On Patient Feedback

Clinics can use patient feedback to improve strengths and weaknesses. Feedback can reveal unexpected issues like parking or scheduling.

Facilities can also learn what patients value, such as face-to-face time with their doctor, waiting room time, staff treatment, or something else. Clinics should encourage patients to voice concerns, ask questions, and provide honest feedback. Trust between doctors and patients is built on open communication. For example, by comparing med spa tools based on patient feedback, clinics can choose technologies and procedures that best meet their clients’ needs and enhance overall satisfaction.

Gather Patient Feedback in Real-time With SurveySensum

4. Improve Patient Service

Your staff supports your patients with patient service. Patients usually first interact with your front desk staff. Your staff must be able to answer patient questions in person or over the phone. They must understand and meet patients’ needs.

A few of the skills that are essential for representatives of patient service are as follows:

  • Paying attention and showing empathy
  • Skillful ability to communicate effectively
  • Accessible without difficulty and prompt
  • Compassion and a positive attitude
  • High level of product expertise
  • Problem-solving skills and abilities

5. Create a Loyalty Program

Businesses struggle with TLV. A patient’s lifetime value is the total value of a patient over their entire relationship with a brand/organization. Better patient retention rates result from longer patient stays. Better retention rates mean more TLV. More TLV means more profits.

Knowing your retention rates helps you plan retention strategies. These retention methods include loyalty programs. Your loyalty program encourages patients to stay with you as long as possible. Rewards, discounts, and premium services at lower prices are examples of incentives.

Companies like Starbucks, Amazon Prime, Apple, and Sephora offer loyalty programs. A loyalty program is a great way to retain patients. Points are the most popular loyalty system. When patients use their loyalty cards, they earn points. They get a freebie or a discount on a premium product after earning enough points.

Other types are:

  • Various levels of loyalty programs, such as gold cards, platinum cards, and so on
  • Programs that are based on values
  • High-end patient loyalty programs
  • Hybrid software applications

Loyalty programs encourage repeat purchases for discounts or freebies. Positive incentives can keep patients with the company for longer.


Finally, good communication and trust-building in healthcare are essential for quality care and patient outcomes. Attentive listening, open-ended questioning, transparency in treatment and billing, a patient-centric approach, soliciting and acting on patient feedback, superior patient service, and loyalty programs are among the ten strategies in this article. Through these methods, clinics can build strong patient-provider relationships, empower patients to make informed care decisions, and boost patient satisfaction and loyalty. These principles improve patient experience, health outcomes, and healthcare provider success.

Manisha Khandelwal

Senior Content Marketer at SurveySensum

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