By Agustin Gonzalez, OD, FAAO, ABCMO
May 11, 2016
If you want to attract Hispanics patients you have to understand how to make this growing segment of the population trust you.
Because of the work we do, physicians usually know how to talk to a mother, or an elderly patient. This set of communication skills should be amplified when working with Hispanic patients. And you may need to go beyond your usual communication techniques when interacting with Hispanic patients, or other minorities. Using targeted communication techniques can go a long way in building relationships with your community’s minority populations.
Knowing more about the culture and values of the Hispanic population will pay great dividends over time to any size and type of practice. Here are four ways to build trust with your Hispanic patient base:
Avoid First Names. In many Hispanic cultures, the use of the first name is considered appropriate only by family and close friends, while use of the last name signifies family pride and respect. As such, refer to Hispanic patients by their last name, and don’t be shy to use a title such as Ms., Miss, Mr. or Mrs. This seemingly small gesture of respect will help you quickly establish a bond of trust with the patient.
Don’t Expect Eye Contact. Don’t get offended if the patient does not create much eye contact with you. In some Hispanic cultures, the title “doctor” is an honor andishighly respected. Don’t ask for the patient to create eye contact, and understand that the patient is not dismissing you. Rather, understand that rather than signifying a lack of attention and interest, not making eye contact is a way for some Hispanic patients to show respect toward you, “el doctor.”
Ask About Family. There is great value placed on family in Hispanic cultures, and for Hispanics the self is just a small part of the family. Indeed, whole families often accompany Hispanic patients to doctors’ appointments. Want to leave a lasting impression? Ask about other family members. Show you are concerned for your patient’s family, in addition to the patient him or herself. It is fair to ask about siblings, parents and kids. This can take less than a minute, and it is an effective way of building trust and showing respect. Sharing information with other family members, and explaining the treatment plan to everyone present, is a sure way to get the whole family to like you.
Offer Whole-Family Care. Talking about the patient’s family, and asking questions about their well-being, is a great way to show that you and your staff care for their family. And don’t forget to offer your services to the whole family. This kind act will quickly make your appointment schedule full!
What are you doing to attract Hispanic patients to your practice, and to interact effectively with them in your office?