Integrate person-centered care into the appointment with five tips, one question, and four habits

By Clint McLean

Sometimes our enthusiasm to be person-centered in our practices gets dampened by not knowing exactly how to go about it. Here are some suggestions to help you bridge the divide between knowing about person-centered care and applying it efficiently and effectively in appointments.

1.    Invite family and friends. Communication challenges affect the person with hearing loss as well as those they communicate with. When family members play a key role in the rehabilitation process, clients are more likely to have successful outcomes. Seek out their contributions. 
Try: Communication Partners tools

2.    Be curious. Uncovering the who, what, where, when, why, and how will help you to better understand, diagnose, and treat your client. Ask open-ended questions to prompt rich responses and allow sufficient time for your client to answer so they can tell you what they feel is most important for you to know. 
Try: Examination of an Audiologist’s Response to Patient’s Expression of Symptoms

3.    Listen. Let the patient tell their story without interruption. Research shows that clinicians often interrupt patients after only 21 seconds. Demonstrate that you are actively listening and connecting with what your client is saying through gestures and brief comments. Giving them the stage shows that you value what they have to say.
Try: The Six Elements of PCC - Active Listening

4.    Provide information. Keeping your client well-informed helps them be strong partners in their hearing care. As an appointment unfolds, let the client know what to expect. Say things like, “I'll do an exam, and then we can go over possible ways to treat this. Sound okay?" Leave time to explain the rationale for tests and treatments and to provide the client with take-home materials and resources for additional information.
Try: Learning Hall video Delivering the Diagnostic Information

5.    Make time to reflect. Looking back at appointments is a great way to improve future interactions. Think about your behavior in a constructive and objective manner. Consider what worked, what didn’t, and what you could do differently next time. You can then make adjustments to become more effective and efficient. You could reflect for a few minutes after every patient, or only after particularly difficult or successful appointments. 
Try: The Reflective Journal

Question: What is important to your client? It’s easy to fall into the trap of deciding what a client needs based on test results. More valuable however, is helping the client manage their hearing loss based on what is important to them. Find out what their preferences and priorities are and work from that perspective to achieve goals that are important to them.
Try: Ted Talk - What Matters to You?

Four Habits: Master the Four Habits model — a person-centered guide to conversations for clinicians. The habits group a series of skills, techniques, and benefits into four families: Invest in the beginning, elicit the patient’s perspective, demonstrate empathy, and invest in the end. By creating structure, the step-by-step guide makes achieving a person-centered practice attainable for any clinician.
Try: Learning Hall course Applying PCC in the Appointment (login required)