Due to the nature of medicine it can be difficult to remember that after all is said and done, a doctor’s appointment is a business transaction. A patient, who is also a customer, visits your place of business and you provide a valuable service.
After that service is provided, you are compensated either by the patient’s insurance or directly by the patient.
We detail this as a reminder that in a medical sense a person visiting your medical practice is a patient deserving of the highest level of care you provide. Additionally, in a business sense, that person is a customer of your business. This also deserves a level of care that goes hand-in-hand with the medical care you provide.
This means providing a high level of customer service along with the medical care you provide. Let’s examine some do’s and don’ts.
- Don’t ignore – A common complaint from patients is that they feel they are ignored when they walk into a medical practice.
Do acknowledge the patient – It is important to keep in mind that for a vast majority of patients, going to the doctor is not the highlight of their day. As hard as it can be for your employees to be and remain positive, every patient deserves to be acknowledged when they visit you.
- Don’t make big promises – Do not make big promises that you are not going to be able to live up to.
Do manage expectations – People like to know what they can expect when they visit their healthcare providers. It provides them with a sense of control and security they may not otherwise feel. So when a patient makes a request or asks for something you may not be certain of, give them an honest answer and help manage their expectations. It is always best to under promise and over deliver.
- Don’t be dismissive – This can be paired with the “don’t ignore” point above. Patients often state they feel their questions and concerns are dismissed.
Listen – Your patient most likely would like to be somewhere else other than your exam room. If they have questions and/or concerns about their health, take the time to actively listen to what they have to say and answer their questions appropriately.
- Don’t argue -This can be a hard one, but it is important to remember not to argue with patients.
Keep your cool– It might feel good in the moment to take on a complaint or comment from a patient who might be wrong or is just plain rude. At the end of the day the best thing is to keep your cool and let the patient vent. Letting a patient speak their mind, without being interrupted or contradicted is enough to satisfy them. Matching their anger and frustration will only fan the flames and make a tough situation that much more difficult.
It can be easy to just focus on the patient and their medical needs and feel that you are doing everything you can to make them happy. In reality you also have to keep in mind that the person you are treating is also a customer of your business. Every patient needs to be treated with the level of care and respect they deserve as a customer of your business, and not just a patient of your medical practice.