General practitioners

How can you communicate effectively with patients? 5 tools that can help you in your daily work

Published on 26/06/2024

Table of content

Communication – an inconspicuous word, but it plays a key role in medicine. Effective patient communication can accelerate healing processes, strengthen trust and even save lives. But let’s take a look at the reality: overcrowded surgeries, stressed doctors, confused patients – communicating with patients is often a challenge. We therefore present 5 digital tools that can make your everyday life with patients easier and improve communication.


The human factor in patient communication

Humanity is the core of medicine. Empathy, the ability to put oneself in another person’s shoes, is the key to successful communication. An atmosphere of trust can be created with every word and every gesture. Added to this is the importance of patient information and education. Ultimately, effective communication can improve the doctor-patient relationship and contribute to high-quality care.


How digital tools help with communication

Some problems and challenges in communication require innovative solutions. Not everything can be improved by acquiring communication skills. And this is exactly where digital solutions come in. They create a completely new type of communication from which both sides of the doctor-patient relationship can benefit. As reports show, many patients also feel uncomfortable during a face-to-face patient consultation. This reduces the flow of information and cannot be improved with communication methods. So how can such situations be changed and what other tools can be used to make communication more effective?

Here are some digital tools that will definitely help you with communication:


Tool no. 1: Telemedicine platforms

Telemedicine platforms have changed the face of healthcare (we speak from experience ;)). They open up new opportunities for doctors and healthcare professionals to diagnose and treat patients by allowing them to reach them without physical restrictions. Many patients either shy away from physical appointments or are afraid of telephone conversations. This is where the strengths of telemedicine come to the fore.

Through video consultations, professionals can build a personal relationship with their patients without sacrificing efficiency or convenience. Patients open up much more quickly and don’t have to make the long journey to the practice. Video counselling tools, such as OneDoc’s video consultation, are an effective and much-used tool, especially in the mental health field.

Advantages of telemedicine and video counselling:

  • Faster processing with patients
  • Location-independent consultations
  • Simpler and improved communication
  • Time-saving


Tool no. 2: Patient portals

Patient portals are an asset to the healthcare industry, acting as a digital home for patients. Doctors can share lab results, give medical advice and make (online )appointments. For patients, it is a platform where they can bring their health information together in one place. It also offers the opportunity to ask questions and receive information without having to leave the house.

Advantages of patient portals:

  • Centralised platform for results and health information
  • Quick access to information
  • Medical advice without an appointment
  • Uncomplicated access for patients and healthcare professionals
  • Patients can come to their next appointment better prepared


Tool no. 3: Mobile health apps

Mobile health apps are a marvel of technology. They can help doctors better understand their patients and monitor their condition. With features such as medication reminders, fitness tracking and symptom diaries, they allow professionals to get an accurate overview of their patients’ health.

Such apps, therefore, speed up the process of data collection and can improve your diagnosis. An improved diagnosis also means more detailed counselling. This can be a game-changer for communication with your patients. However, the use of these apps also requires careful consideration of data protection and security aspects. Always check whether these apps are also compliant with the new Data Protection Act.

Advantages of health apps:

  • Detailed patient data
  • Better monitoring of the course of the disease
  • Comprehensive and more specific advice
  • Saving time in communication


Tool no. 4: Artificial intelligence and chatbots

Artificial intelligence and chatbots have the potential to revolutionise healthcare communication. Tools such as chatbots can serve as the first point of contact for patient enquiries, save valuable time and increase the efficiency of doctors and medical staff. With AI tools such as ChatGPT, you, as a healthcare professional, can also query communication methods right away. The more concretely you describe the individual situation, the more customised the generated response will be.

However, we must be aware of the potential risks and ensure that the use of these tools does not compromise the quality of patient care. Please also ensure that you do not disclose any patient data or other sensitive data.

Advantages of chatbots and AI tools:

  • Develop communication strategies
  • Prepare better questions for patient interviews
  • Chatbot can answer general questions in advance


Tool no. 5: Social media and online forums

Social media and online forums are powerful tools for disseminating health information and building patient communities. They allow professionals to reach a wider audience and share up-to-date health information. Social media are tools to showcase and emphasise your expertise. This changes the perception of your patients and can make them more likely to open up to you.

Advantages of social media:

  • Better perception of your expertise
  • Communicative opening of the patients
  • Interaction in a time-shifted platform


Effective integration of communication tools in practice

Tools are only as good as their application. The effective integration of communication tools into practice requires strategic planning and the training of medical staff. Patient feedback plays a crucial role in this. It helps evaluate and adapt the user-friendliness and effectiveness of the tools.

What you can do:

Get an overview: Only you can find out exactly what is tailored to your needs. Look for tools that you can integrate into your system.

Prepare your team: It’s best if the whole team can pull together. So inform other members of your practice about your plans. They will certainly be able to give you input along the way.

Gain experience: Such tools sometimes require a certain familiarisation phase. Gain experience here, and then weigh up which tool suits you best.

Collect feedback: To see whether the tools have effectively fulfilled their purpose, you can contact your patients directly. Ask for their opinion and whether anything has improved recently.


Digital tools sumarized

If we look back at the tools presented and their importance, we can see the many ways in which communication between doctor and patient can be improved. And yet we should not forget: people are always at the centre. Our vision for the future of patient communication must, therefore, always put the patient at the centre and preserve the human side of medicine.

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