Patients coming to your office are not usually there because they are feeling healthy, happy and at ease. In fact, most patients sitting in your waiting room are uncomfortable. They are having thoughts about what they will say to you. They practice getting their sentences in order, so they can get the most information from you in the short amount of time you can meet with them.
They are stressed due to lifestyle factors such as family responsibilities, the need to take time off work to meet with you, and the fears of what they may learn about their health.
There are things you can do, however, to help your patients feel more comfortable when they visit your office. From the moment they enter the door, you can take steps to make them feel valued and that you care.
Below are tips and detailed actions you can start taking today to help your patients feel relaxed and with less stress prior to, during and after any meetings you have with them.
A Great Welcome
Even when patients aren’t feeling their best, they still deserve to be welcomed into your office in a way that helps them feel calm and comforting. Preferably, an appointed staff member could greet them and in a friendlier way than just sliding the glass door from left to right.
He or she could welcome your patient by meeting them at the door, providing a tour of the waiting room, walking with them to their preferred seating and explaining what they can expect next in the process.
Be creative in how you welcome patients. Make a good first impression. You can do this with your décor also.
The decorations in your office should have a theme that represents the type of medicine you practice. If you are a naturopath, you want neutral, soothing decorations that signal relaxation to your patient. If you treat children only, your office should be decorated with a kid-friendly theme.
Your décor helps patients connect with you. Patients spend a lot of time in the waiting room, enough time to analyze every piece of decor. They will form opinions based on how they feel while waiting for your meeting.
Decorations, as well as the entertainment you provide, can influence a patient.
Appropriate Entertaining Environment
Many physicians use radio or television to provide entertainment to patients while they wait. However, many physicians do not consider how that entertainment can affect the thoughts, feelings and actions of their patients.
Instead, staff members put on shows they want to watch, or you provide patients with shows teaching them different medical issues, providing them with further stress.
If your patient comes to your office and they are already feeling somewhat stressed out or nervous, the last thing they want to hear, or watch is a network that is constantly reporting negative materials such as updates on a war, crime sprees or financial doom.
This may leave your patient feeling depressed or even angry. You need to provide a healing environment.
Laughter, on the other hand, has been shown to have great benefits to a person’s physical and mental health. So, why not choose radio stations and television shows that make your patients laugh. They may enter your office feeling hopeful and happy and less stressed.
Make Your Staff Happy
When your staff are happy, your patients know it. When your staff are unhappy, they know it. They can sometimes even hear it when your staff are complaining to one another. If your staff are feeling great, they have no need to complain.
You can make your staff happy in many ways, such as practicing in-office dispensing programs that come with phenomenal software designed to simplify and streamline the work of front-office staff. With just a few clicks of a button they have instant communication with insurance companies.
And if you are dispensing in-office, your staff will no longer spend time faxing pharmacies, leaving messages for pharmacists, or answering prescription related calls from patients.
Instead, the in-office dispensing programs do the work for your staff. For instance, refills can be placed on automatic notice, so staff do not spend time fielding refill calls from patients. Dispensing in your office gives your staff time to do the most important tasks without interruption.
After your patients are registered, they are left to themselves. Many patients have questions but are too shy or too afraid to ask. Some have gotten the courage to ask questions, only to have your staff deny them an answer.
The more you communicate, the more confidence they have. This confidence will lead to trusting you and your process and your treatment plan for their health. It is up to you and your staff to communicate to your patients what they can expect before, during and after their appointment.
Walk in Your Patients’ Shoes
Simply put, try to imagine yourself as your own patient. How would you want to be treated? What services would you like to see offered? What would you expect from the time you enter your office to the time you leave?
Asking and answering questions from the perspective of patient can give you great insight into how you can improve, from your office to your services. You may find that adding ancillary services such as in-office dispensing of medication and equipment could make your patients more comfortable.
One of the best ways you can evaluate how comfortable patients are is to simply ask them. Patients will typically give you an honest answer when asked.
Furthermore, by asking patients for their opinion, you will be showing them you truly care. They will feel respected and therefore; you will earn their respect. But most of all, you will earn their loyalty.
The easier you make it for patients to follow a treatment plan, the better health outcomes they will experience. Ultimately, your goal is to help patients reach their goal of good health. This process begins with you making them comfortable at each step of the journey.