5 Tips to Boost Medical Staff Relationships

Nurses and office managers often hold the key to opening the door to your doctor. Having a good relationship with the office staff can lead to better access to your doctor. And when you’re in pain, have questions, or are concerned about treatment, getting in to see your rheumatologist quickly can mean all the difference to managing your psoriatic arthritis and easing worries. Don’t forget that it is the staff, not your doctor, that jumps through hoops for prior authorizations, referrals, and pharmacy forms.

Here are five tips to a better relationship with your medical staff:

1. Give respect

When you’re in pain and just want answers, it’s easy to be short with the person on the other side of the phone or across the counter. It’s important to remember that they are people, too. You aren’t the only person who needs help. And some days are just busier than others in the doctor’s office. Being put on hold can be extremely frustrating, but give the medical staff a chance to get all of the information to give you the best answer possible.

2. Ask how you should contact the office

Technology, software programs, and apps give patients and health care teams new ways to communicate. Most doctors have a patient portal to get lab results and summaries of visits. Some of these programs also include areas to contact doctors or staff with questions or concerns. Other offices use email to communicate. Still others prefer phone calls. Find out which way your doctor and staff prefer to communicate and contact them that way. It might not be the easiest way for you, but if it is the way they prefer, you’re more likely to get the help you need.

3. Don’t be a know-it-all

Yes, it’s true that informed patients who take charge in their care might know more than their doctors and staff. And patients should always be informed and leading conversations with their health team. However, no one likes a know-it-all. Use phrases like “I heard about X treatment,” or “I read that X could be making my pain worse.” Follow these up with, “What does the doctor think?” or “Should I be concerned?”. Unless it is an emergency, be patient while the staff checks with your doctor and gets an appropriate response for you.

4. A bad interaction with one doesn’t mean all will be bad

Your doctor’s staff is busy. I’ve never encountered one that isn’t. Yes, they work for you. Yes, they need to respect you. But they are human. It’s not right, but sometimes the staff will take out their frustration about another patient or problem that isn’t even related to you. Try to stay calm and realize they are just having a bad day. However, if this is an ongoing trend of disrespect, reach out to the office manager or even your doctor to explain the unprofessional representing the office. They will appreciate you informing them so they can rectify the situation. If you feel the situation does not get fixed or continues to get in the way of your care, consider switching doctors.

5. Bring treats

I’m not too proud to admit I’ve baked cookies or had flowers delivered to the office when I need a little extra TLC. This lets the staff know that you value them, as well as your doctor. The staff is the first and last people you see at the office. Make a good impression with kindness. If your nurse spends extra time answering your questions, mail him a thank you note. If the receptionist squeezed you in for an appointment when you are in a flare, bring her a small gift. If the lab tech can draw your blood without you even feeling a poke, make a big deal out of how you appreciate him. These treats and kind words don’t need to be expensive or take a lot of time, but showing the staff you care really goes a long way.

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