Fostering Trust From Start to Finish

The North American Spine Society surveyed its physician members to learn what they believed can best build trust with patients. They put forth five ideas to foster trust with patients from the beginning of a visit to the end: engaging patients by name, validating their concerns, reviewing imaging with them, asking them if they have any questions, and ensuring that staff members respond to patient calls within 24-36 hours. Why does this build trustworthiness? This survey generated a set of ideas for improving communication and putting patient interests at the center of the clinical visit.  

How It Works

Caring for the patient begins when he/she first walks into the examination room and continues well past when he/she walks out the door. Each patient needs to feel that their best interests, emotions and overall health are at the forefront and the physician does that by humanizing the patient, being patient with them and making sure a staff member calls back in a timely fashion.

  1. Engage the patient by name
  2. Make sure the patient understands “we’re on the same team” and that their voice and concerns are validated
  3. Review imaging with patients
  4. Finish visit by asking if patient has additional questions 
  5. Make sure your staff answers patient phone calls within 24-36 hours, maximum

Skills and Competencies

Communication, empathy, kindness, follow-through and patience.


In a survey with more than 70 respondents, NASS physicians rated these practices among the most important things to foster trust with patients.


This practice can and should be used in all doctor-patient communications.