There is no other relationship quite like that between a doctor and patient.

It is unique.

A doctor may be a confidante and at times may seem closer than a friend – but technically, they are not.

While doctors are personable, the relationship should be a professional one.

Yet paradoxically, it relies heavily on interpersonal skills to blossom.

Ideally, the relationship is one built on the cornerstones of communication, trust and a doctor’s ability to show empathy for his patient.

But all great relationships take time and this therefore requires commitment from both parties.

More doctors are beginning to appreciate the significance and value of whole-person care (WPC) – the idea of treating a patient as a whole person considering multiple factors and influences on their health, rather than just in isolation.

This cannot be achieved without an intimate knowledge of the patient garnered from a great doctor-patient relationship.

Building blocks of a great doctor-patient relationship

Building a great doctor-patient relationship is a long-term investment.

Like money, it takes time to earn but can be lost in an instant.

Whether you are a doctor or a patient, here are some of the core planks that will help build a solid relationship.


There’s no getting around communication being a two-way street. 

A patient must honestly and accurately communicate their symptoms and a doctor needs to listen closely.

They may then respond with questions that will enable them to accurately diagnose and address an issue. 

Equally, a patient’s ability to accurately follow a doctor’s advice relies largely on clear and concise directions and comprehension.

‘Patient teach back’, asking them to repeat instructions back to the doctor, is a good way to ensure that has occurred.

Language barriers present additional challenges and may be overcome by the use of digital interpreters.


It’s arguable that you can’t be a great GP without having the ability to show empathy for a patient’s situation.

Empathy is the ability to put yourself in the patient’s shoes and show them you understand how they feel.

It allows doctors to connect with their patients on an emotional level.

Patients respond positively to it and it builds a stronger bond with doctors like no other ingredient.

Shared decision-making

There is no bigger stakeholder in a patient’s qualitative care than the patient themselves.

Involving them in the decision-making process has regularly proven to produce greater patients’ satisfaction and better outcomes as well as produce better relationships with care providers.

But it relies on three key factors:

  • the patient must understand the risks and benefits of the chosen treatment
  • the doctor must appreciate the patient’s personal preferences and potential cultural constraints
  • family caregivers need to be engaged where appropriate

The above principles are partly co-dependent.

It’s difficult to show empathy and almost impossible to share the decision-making process without being a good communicator.

Benefits of a great doctor-patient relationship

Once you have established a great doctor-patient relationship, the benefits for both the practice and the patient are numerous. They include:


The health system is sometimes in the news for all the wrong reasons. And while many patients may be sceptical of how the health sector is run at federal and state level, they will still trust their doctor if a great relationship has been nurtured.

Like communication, trust cuts both ways.

A patient will benefit from trusting their doctor’s advice and treatment plan while the doctor must trust their patient will follow that advice and seek more help if needed.


This follows on from trust.

A patient who feels comfortable with and trusts their doctor will return.

This benefits the patient by maintaining a long-established and trusted relationship and the doctor by facilitating repeat business.

Knowledge of patient

Doctors will detailed histories of patients will be able to make better and more accurate diagnostic assessments.

This is true from both a mental and physical perspective and illustrates the value of the whole-person care approach.

Better outcomes

Patients who enjoy great relationships with their doctors are more likely to adhere to the treatment recommended.

This in turn increases the likelihood of better outcomes and an overall better result for their health.

Build a relationship with a trusted doctor at AHA

It starts with a conversation. Meet our diverse team here.

Work at AHA

AHA Clinics encourages the building of great relationships between doctors and patients for the benefits of both parties.

We offer training and mentoring for doctors of all ages who are keen to progress their careers, and invest in personal development.

You will love our purpose built, state-of-the-art facilities that utilise natural light and make coming to work here a joy.

We take great pride in on our fantastic culture that supports doctors of all ages both professionally and personally.

There are some outstanding opportunities for doctors at our two clinics at Seaford and Seaford Meadows.

If that sounds attractive to you, we’d love to hear from you.

You can learn more about our practice and register your interest here or email

Our AHA leadership team will contact you soon to arrange an informal discussion.