With the healthcare systems we have in place, it can be easy to forget the core meaning of care. Medical conglomerates are constantly looking for ways to become more efficient, profitable, and technologically advanced. From a business vantage point, these types of improvements seem valuable, but they don’t address the sole purpose of healthcare﹘ the wellbeing of each and every patient.
Prioritizing patient-centered care is the key to creating a thriving healthcare practice. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned while trying to give my patients an outstanding experience.
- A patient’s opinion of your practice begins long before they step foot in the door. Your first point of contact with a new patient sets the tone for their entire experience. Whether it’s the way they schedule their appointment, the confirmation text/email, or the initial phone conversation, this experience should be personalized. You are already building a relationship with your patient, and each interaction should leave them feeling important.
- Friendliness and enthusiasm should be expected from everyone. Whether interacting with a patient on the phone or in person, your staff should smile and maintain a positive attitude. Whenever a patient walks into the office, they should be greeted (by name if at all possible). These simple actions can drastically improve the quality of the customer service you provide.
- Make your patients feel special. At our office we display a welcome list for all new patients that they can see as they walk in the door. Being highlighted makes patients feel appreciated and adds a bit of excitement to their first appointment. This small gesture goes a long way!
- It’s not a waiting room. You never want to make patients wait for their appointment unless they absolutely have to. But referring to the room in the front of the office as a “waiting area” implies the opposite. It’s better to refer to that room as the reception area. Be sure to enforce this with both the doctors and staff.
- Addressing your patients. Whenever you speak to a patient in person, you should refer to them by their name and look them in the eyes. Have you ever been in a doctor’s office and when it was your turn to go back, a nurse came out, loudly called out your last name, and waited for someone to stand up? This is the norm in many healthcare offices, and it is impersonal and I believe downright disrespectful to those receiving care. I ask that my staff walk out to the patient, greet them by name, and introduce themselves by name.
As you can see, each interaction your patient has with your office and staff contributes to their opinion of the care you provide and therefore, the success of your practice. This article only describes a few of the many ways you can put patients first. Check out my book, One Patient at a Time, to learn more about how patient-centered care leads to success.