Let’s start by assuming that your practice provides high-quality clinical care to each and every patient who comes through the door. Let’s further assume that your staff is well trained to offer excellent service on a consistent basis. And let’s conclude, that because of these two important factors, satisfaction among your patients is high.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? And it is. And, there is probably even more you can do to position your practice as the one with the best reputation in your community, the office that people talk about and refer their friends to, and the one makes your employees proud to tell people where they work. You can take quality and service up a level by surprising and delighting your patients.
Even in the most efficient offices, patients usually wait for a few minutes between the time they walk into the office and when they’re escorted to an exam room. Typically, they’ll then wait a few more minutes for the doctor to appear. Instead of making waiting tolerable, strive to make it a pleasant experience.
It’s relatively easy and not terribly expensive to make water, coffee, tea and hot cocoa available in the reception area. Keurig® brewers are ideal because they allow patients to make a single fresh cup of the hot beverage of their choice quickly and easily. Be sure to assign someone in the office to check the beverage bar several times throughout the day to wipe up spills, empty the trash and replenish supplies.
In addition to the usual home and garden, news, and sports magazines, consider stocking your reception area and exam rooms with unique reading material. Books of short motivational or humorous essays are an option, as is accessible poetry. A collection of Doonesbury or New Yorker magazine cartoons are sure to entertain. Or Google “free printable crosswords” and supply clipboards and pencils along with print outs of the puzzles for patients to pass the time.
Another way to make your practice memorable is to remember your patients. The internet and e-mail has, in recent years, made birthday cards arriving by mail, if not obsolete, certainly rare. And yet, most of us still enjoy finding real birthday cards, with real postage, in our real mailboxes. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s cards are also a nice way to let patients know you value them.
Perhaps one of the best ways to surprise and delight patients is to check up on them after they had anything out of the ordinary done in your office, or after they’ve been discharged from the hospital. A quick call from a staff member or doctor to say, “How are you doing?” and “Do you have any questions?” following a procedure or after receiving a difficult diagnosis is a classy touch, not to mention good medicine.
Ask your staff to weigh in with their own ideas about how to make your practice shine in the eyes of patients. They’ll no doubt have more suggestions based on what they know about your unique clientele.