5 Ways to Retain Surgery Patients by Building Trust

A doctor actively listens to her patient, one of the best strategies to help retain surgery patients

Numerous studies have shown that there is a close relationship between patient trust and strong surgical outcomes. But only 78% of patients trust their doctor. In fact, a full 25% of patients say that their healthcare provider spent too little time with them, and 10% felt that they were not treated with respect or communicated with honestly. These numbers indicate that providers might be neglecting the important trust element. 

This lack of trust indicates that it’s more important than ever to have good strategies for building trust and confidence to ensure that your surgical patients keep returning to your practice.

Key Takeaways

  • Building surgeon-patient trust is the most effective way to ensure strong outcomes and retain more surgery patients.
  • Empathy, logic, and authenticity are the main drivers of trust.
  • Key strategies you can use to build trust include listening actively, helping to put overwhelming information into context, being encouraging if patients seek a second opinion, investing in your team, and staying current on the latest research and technology. 

What Are the Components of Trust?

The core components we depend on to build trust are empathy, logic, and authenticity.

Together empathy, logic, and authenticity build the trust that can help retain surgery patients
Image Source httpwwwgame changernet20210722trust the foundation of leadershipYbPbwX3MLOQ

Displaying empathy tells patients that you are looking out for them. Without empathy, patients easily lose faith that your recommendations are based on their best interests rather than your bottom line.

Logic is vital to demonstrate your expertise and reasoning, but the communication of these complex ideas needs to be open and welcoming. A patient needs to understand and participate in the decision-making process to trust it.

And finally, patients need to sense that you are being authentic. Authenticity when dealing with patients translates to honest communication and putting yourself in the patient’s shoes to understand their concerns. 

These drivers work together to help you develop a strong and trusting surgeon-patient relationship, which results in better surgical outcomes and more retained patients. The following strategies each use one or more of these core components to help build that trust.

5 Ways to Retain Surgery Patients by Building Trust

Trust might seem like a mercurial concept, but you can take active steps to build it. These five strategies are simple, concrete ways you can use to develop a strong relationship with your patients, and in doing so ensure that they continue to work with your surgical team in the future.

1. Listen Actively

Active listening is one of the best and most effective ways to build surgeon-patient trust. It demonstrates empathy: it shows that you care about what they have to say and will be tailoring your responses, and ultimately their treatment, to meet their individual needs. This results in a better experience for them and increases the likelihood of a positive surgical outcome.

You can demonstrate active listening by:

  • Making eye contact to show that they have your full attention.
  • Not interrupting, which can make your patient feel rushed or disrespected.
  • Paying attention to nonverbal cues such as a patient smiling or crossing their arms defensively. 
  • Paraphrasing and summarizing to demonstrate that you have heard and understood what they said.

These things seem minor, but not feeling listened to and a lack of  eye contact are some reasons why patients do not trust their doctors.


A pie graph shows the reasons patients did not trust their doctors including a lack of active listening and no eye contact
Source httpswwwnorcorgPDFsABIM20Foundation20210520 NORC ABIM Foundation Trust20in20Healthcare Part201pdf

These basic skills are incredibly easy to neglect in the hustle and bustle of a busy facility. Being intentional about your active listening builds rapport and trust.  

2. Help Put Overwhelming Information Into Context

Patients today have access to an unprecedented amount of information, and not all of it is good quality. The proliferation of online articles on every topic under the sun means that by the time a patient sits down with you they could have read any number of confusing things about their procedure or intervention.

Your instinct might be to dismiss any information they found online, but this can come across as patronizing and controlling. Instead, use it as an opportunity to demonstrate your logic. Helping them to put all the pieces of information into context is a much more effective way of helping your patients to understand where misconceptions come from, thereby building their confidence in you as an authority.

3. Be Encouraging if Patients Seek Second Opinions

If your patients want a second opinion, be open and encouraging. This demonstrates that you are dedicated to their best interests. Encouraging a second opinion displays honesty and authenticity, which reassures your patient that your ego will not get in the way of them getting the best care.

What’s more, if the second opinion confirms yours this also builds a patient’s confidence in your expertise and logic, which serves to further strengthen your relationship.

4. Invest in Your Team

Every member of the team contributes to your patients’ trust. Medical receptionists, coordinators,  operating room nurses, anesthesiologists, and recovery room nurses all impact the patients’ experience. A poor interaction with any one of them can sour your patient to your entire facility.

That’s why investing in your team is one of the best ways to build patient trust and retain more surgery patients. Aligning your patient’s entire team with how to build trust is a great start. The more training you can provide to your team about showing empathy, logic, and authenticity to every patient, the better your patient retention will be and the more likely the patient will recommend you to others.

5. Stay Current on the Latest Research and Technological Advances

New research and technological advances continue to emerge every day. Staying current on the latest research allows you to open a two-way discussion with your patients about the surgical options that might be best for them, helping to demonstrate your logic and build that all-important trust.

Continuing professional development is an important practice not only for staying current with your medical knowledge, but also for meeting patients where they are. When a patient is used to ordering groceries, filling prescriptions, and booking appointments online, it can feel jarring if their surgical journey is using outdated technology. In fact, 61% of younger patients would switch healthcare providers due to a poor online experience. Embracing the latest technology earns patient trust by demonstrating your commitment to staying up to date throughout your practice.

Leverage Technology to Build Trust and Retain Surgery Patients

Building trust is vital if you want to retain patients, but where do you find the time? That’s another way the latest technology can help.

Personalized care automation is the best way to create a smooth journey for your patients. Wellbe’s ConnectedCare takes care of hundreds of nonmedical and administrative tasks, so you can dedicate more time to building trust with your patients.

Get in touch to find out how Wellbe can help you retain surgery patients.