A great doctor-patient relationship is essential to a successful medical practice. From quick visits to EHR charting, there seems to be very little time for meaningful interactions with patients. A new study from Stanford University School of Medicine on physician-patient relationships in JAMA says that in the current situation, particularly in the primary care sector– lack of time and administrative demands can make physicians feel overwhelmed. Yes, it can be very challenging for physicians to maintain a fine balance between keeping patients happy and maintaining professionalism.

The following are some of the evidence-based tips that can help busy physicians juggling administrative demands and technological distractions to fully engage and connect with patients.

  1. Prepare with intention: Focus all your attention so you are ready for the encounter. Quickly take a moment to get to know about the patient you are going to meet. This is the first step to creating a good rapport with the patient. Show genuine interest and interact with them as an individual, rather than as a patient. This helps to create a personal connection.
  2. Take time to listen: Establish eye contact and make the patient comfortable with you. Make them feel welcome and taken care of. Sit down, lean forward and listen to them carefully. Empathetic listening creates connection. Do not interrupt. It helps you get all the relevant information you need. Smile whenever appropriate, because a genuine smile goes a long way.
  3. Agree on what really matters the most: Do not assume and set goals for patients. Recognize what the patient’s goals are. Yes, get to understand their health goals and values in order to create a patient-centered care.
  4. Connect with the patient: Analyze all the circumstances that could influence the patients’ health and wellbeing. It could also be about finding a shared interest or hobby you both enjoy. Always be positive with the patient.
  5. Look for emotional cues: The first thing is to look for verbal and non-verbal cues.  Make an effort to listen to and validate their feelings. This can help build trust and even remove feelings of anxiety, if any.


According to the Journal of General Internal Medicine, the doctor-patient relationship is considered the cornerstone of care. Hence, adhering to the above five proven practices could go a long way in establishing a strong connection with your patient.

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