If you’re shopping for a big ticket item this week, chances are you’re going to ask some BIG questions. At the very least, you’ll read online reviews, maybe check out Consumer Reports, and do a bit of “Google” searching. If you can, you will definitely talk to a real live sales person, too. Along the way, you will ask friends and neighbors about their experiences with the product or service provider in question, right? It happens all the time.
My mom friends and I are no different. We are always asking each other questions. Whom do you recommend for a doctor, a dentist, an orthodontist? Why? Did you like your HVAC company? Why not?
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I had a few questions for our future pediatrician. Our hospital at that time required you to have one lined up before giving birth. Momma bear went into research mode.
Guess which pediatrician I chose? The doctor who called me back and allowed me 5 minutes of his valuable time to answer my few questions. He soothed a momma bear’s heart. He is excellent at patient-centered care!
Funny thing — I tried this same tactic very nicely at our local primary physician’s office this week. I walked in. I waited patiently for a receptionist to finish a call. She then asked if I was there for an appointment.
No, but are you currently accepting new patients? Yes? Great! Would I be able to ask a doctor just a few questions before I make an appointment as a new patient? She can call at her convenience any time. No rush.
The receptionist actually told me, Oh, you’re shopping for doctor? Well, you can’t do that here. I smiled, said, Okay, that does answer my question, and left.
My daughter’s outgrown her pediatrician, and she’s really nervous about seeing a new doctor. I’m still the momma bear. I’m out to protect my cub. It’s my right.
You can guess the office I walked into obviously got a big fat “F” in the realm of patient-centered care. Maybe that receptionist was just having a bad day. She needs to practice a new line, though, or undergo more training. Wonder why I wrote this article about a medical practice’s most important hire?
I should know, because I spent a few years being that front desk lady. As I learned later, our optometrist’s office had gone through quite a few hires to find a multi-purpose receptionist (greeter, appointment-setter, eye-care coaching, insurance and financial data gatherer, and eyewear sales, anyone?)
You’re only permitted one shot at a doctor for a yearly routine appointment covered by insurance. Otherwise, you have to pay out of pocket for a second visit to another physician, and the cycle could repeat itself until you find someone you like and trust.
Why wouldn’t there at least be a representative nurse to answer a few questions? After all, whoever helps you take care of your health is actually one of the most valuable purchases you make in life.
Consider this, too. For most folks, medical insurance is one of their larger monthly bills. So why wouldn’t you ask questions and invest in yourself wisely? Who has the gall to say they won’t talk to a potential buyer? Really?
Something similar also happened this week to another lady friend of mine as we shared stories. She went shopping for a doctor and asked the same question I did. Truly reasonable question, I think.
Happily, she received a slightly-altered, but much more patient-friendly response.
“We don’t offer a meet-and-greet session with our doctors, but we do have a nurse that knows each doctor very well who can answer your questions.” Ahhh! Your nurse is your salesperson. That works. Yes, I’ll be happy to talk to your nurse.
As it turns out, my friend who also asks annoying, intelligent questions has some very unique and serious health issues. She simply wanted to learn more about this doctor’s level of experience with her specific needs. It was vital!
Her next doctor would affect the quality of her life. She’d been down a long medical road, knew what had helped her, and what didn’t. She didn’t want to go back through all of the “experimental stages” with a new doctor in a new area.
My mom friends and I — well, we’ve heard this run-around from medical practices before, so we compare notes. We chat about our various doctors, because it’s often the only way to get information.
One friend has been so perturbed by her experiences that she refused to hire a primary care physician for several years. She would just go the the walk-in emergency medical clinic if she was sick, instead.
There’s a simple answer actually. What we all want is genuine transparency from our medical providers with a touch of caring.
And that may take more than 15 minutes of scheduled time.
We don’t just want to read about you on the web. We want to get a feel for your practice, and have a few personal questions that may be quite private.
Just a little bit of time goes a long way. If you don’t allow “interview questions” you’re really not being fair to us your consumer. You’re asking us to hire you blindly.
Even if it’s just your trained staff responding knowledgeably to our questions before we hire you to protect our most valuable commodity, that counts.
“Golden Rule Marketing” — life’s really golden when you apply it. Very simple, actually. You treat others the way you want to be treated. I’m excited that my friend found a doctor who sounds golden. It’s good to know you’re out there.
If you’re interested in growing your wellness practice with patient-centered care, then you should also try patient-centered content marketing. I’d love to help you make friends with your clients using email newsletters or friendly, helpful blog posts on your website.
Fill out the contact form below. I will be happy to help! Or call me directly at 443-362-8789
Let’s start with a basic question. What is your business mission statement? If you’re reading this article and your bottom line is your biggest WHY for your business, read no farther.
It’s okay with me. This article is not for you. However, if happy, healthier clients are your focus (along with that necessary bottom line), then you’re in tune with patient-centered care.
According to this article in Catalyst (https://catalyst.nejm.org), how you make your clients feel is an important part of quality care.
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) also lists patient-centered care as one of six markers of quality health care. In fact, all six goals could be summed up by saying, “Do your best for each client. ”
How many of us actually look forward to picking up the phone and calling a doctor, dentist, or other wellness provider? Ladies, how about getting the man in your life to schedule his own appointments? Is it like pulling teeth? Healthcare is a very emotional and personal experience for most clients.
While you as the wellness provider bear most of the responsibility for safe and effective care, your office staff will make or break patient-centered care with a tough-as-nails or a sour lemon approach.
Your “gatekeepers” should embody all that is wonderful about your wellness practice.
If you’re as healthy as a horse, you can’t understand your clients. You need to hire a secret “quality control” agent to discover how it feels for your new potential to phone or walk in the front door of your practice.
Don’t hire your best friend. Don’t even hire an acquaintance. Hire someone who has a sick loved one and experiences doctor’s offices ALL the time. Have them call your office at different times with “new patient” questions. Pick the busiest times. Here are a few suggestions — keeping it simple is great!