How Not to Talk to Patients

Being a doctor is about as much of a social job as one can get. Even though computers and healthcare information technology mean that physicians are now spending a disproportionately large amount of their time staring at their computer screens, there's no getting around the importance of good old face-to-face interactions. That's also what's valued by your patients. In this time of great upheaval in healthcare, everything has changed apart from human nature.

Here are five things that doctors should never do:

1. Keep turning around and looking at your computer screen when your patient is trying to talk to you. This is consistently one of the things that annoys patients the most. Of course, it's very difficult for doctors as well, who have a high amount of bureaucratic "tick boxes" to satisfy, but try setting aside a dedicated amount of time just to sit face-to-face and talk the good old-fashioned way.

2. Make it obvious you are in a hurry. Humans are perceptive animals, and we can all sense when someone is trying desperately to get away from us! Be aware of the subtle body language clues that will give this away, including starting to walk away (in a hospital), cutting people off, or worst of all -- telling the patient how busy you are