We are all guilty of it. We get so caught up in what we are doing, so focused in completing our job, we forget to smile. In a patient or any other customer facing career, a smile is a necessity. A smile eases tension and adds warmth. Think about it. When you go to the doctor’s office, the bank, the grocery store or out to eat, do you want to be serviced by someone who is expressionless or someone who has a smile to share? We are all busy, but in today’s world, if you want to grow you must make a connection with your patients. Connecting with patients is a vital part of any medical marketing strategy. If some of your patients are dissatisfied with the care they receive at your practice, your potential for growth drops dramatically.
So how do we better connect with patients? The first step is slowing down. I know this is difficult to do in a busy medical practice, but a smile takes just a few seconds. Another recommendation is to use eye contact. A common complaint of patients with regard to the health care industry is an overall feeling that they are just a number and not a person. One of the best ways to make a patient feel important is by looking them in the eye when you are speaking to them. And don’t forget to smile!
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid issued a report last week stating that growth of health care spending in the United States “experienced historically low rates in 2009 and 2010.” With the increase in patient co-pays and decrease in insurance coverage, patients want better care while visiting the doctor. They are going to choose their medical providers more selectively. This means patient satisfaction must be a goal of the practice.
If you are not already doing so, begin surveying patients on their experience. Patient surveys provide the practice with valuable data about how they are performing and what improvements can be made. Patients want to be taken seriously. If you are going to take the time to ask them what they think, be ready to make some changes. If you begin making improvements to the areas commented on, you are almost guaranteed to see a big increase in patient satisfaction scores.
Connecting with patients is an ongoing process. By considering each patient encounter to be an opportunity to grow, your attitude shifts from quantity to quality, and that is how great practices become even greater.