When patients seek your help, they have expectations about how their visit will go. Their expectations are set by previous experiences, what others are saying about you, and what you say about yourself through marketing.
You may think the cost of your visit is what drives patients to see you. But this is not the case for many. Patients are willing to pay more for a doctor who meets all their needs and expectations.
Therefore, you must start thinking more about your patients’ experiences while at your office and less about the things that don’t matter as much.
Learning what your patients are looking for will help you improve your medical practice. Below are a few of the things patients want to experience when they visit your office.
Patients Want to Feel Important
Everyone wants to feel important, especially patients when they are coming to you during a vulnerable time. They feel their issue is important because it is happening to them, in real time. You and your staff should feel the same way.
Even if you know your patient’s issue is less urgent than someone else’s, you need to avoid devaluing their reason for seeking treatment.
From the moment they walk in the door, to the time they exit, patients want to feel like you care about them, and that you appreciate them choosing you as their doctor.
Patients Want You to Be Human
You make mistakes. You are human. Show that side of you to your patients so than can know you are transparent and not trying to come across as the expert who never falters.
Patients will trust you a lot more if you can admit when you do wrong or when you don’t know the answer to something. If you tell them you will find the answer, they will remain happy. Patients would much rather wait on a good answer than be given a misdiagnosis or treatment that doesn’t work because it was based on your guess.
Admit when you are wrong or when you don’t have an answer. Be honest with your patients. Avoid making your patients feel as if they are being duped. In doing so, you can avoid a lot of anger and even legal issues.
Patients Want You to Actively Listen
Do you enter an office visit, keep you head in a patient’s chart or in a computer typing notes throughout their visit? If so, stop. These actions show your patient you are just trying to rush through their appointment and that you don’t really care about what they are saying.
To actively listen to your patients, sit down next to them. Look them in the eye and pay attention. Use reflection to show you hear what they are saying. Take notes after the visit. You can schedule in extra time between appointments to type notes.
Spend more than ten minutes with a patient. The time you spend with them reflects how interested you are in them. Patients notice this and will eventually leave your practice.
Patients Want Convenience
Patients are busy, just as you are. They have families and jobs, both of which they left to make a trip to your office for help. You have no idea the stress your patients are under.
Providing patients with conveniences such as in-office dispensing increases patient satisfaction and loyalty to your practice.
Dispensing medications and durable medical equipment are two of the conveniences your patients will appreciate. It saves them time and money, and their health outcomes will improve.
They can leave your office with a filled prescription and return to their busy lives without the need to travel and wait at a pharmacy. This convenience makes patients very happy.
Patients Want You to Provide Ancillary Services
Patients want you to be a one-stop-shop. While they know you cannot deliver all the services they need, the more you can offer the better.
Ancillary services are a great way to increase your revenue, even tripling it in some cases with minimal efforts on your end. These can include in-office dispensing, laboratory testing, urgent care, and even diagnostic imaging.
With these services, your patients are given extra time to get back to their many other responsibilities, and less time in waiting rooms.
Patients Want Respect
It’s likely you do not know much about your patients. Some are uneducated, while others have Ph.Ds. Some show up disheveled and some show up neatly dressed. Some patients speak English and others don’t. Do you treat them the same?
Every patient you see should be given equal amounts of time, care and respect.
Respect starts in the waiting room. Patients don’t mind waiting longer if they are treated with respect. Have a staff member wait on them in the waiting room. Get them a blanket if they are cold. Get them a drink if they are thirsty.
Meeting their basic needs is much more appreciated by patients than getting in and out of your office in under a half hour.
Communicating with patients is another way to show respect. Frequently update them on their wait time, explain delays, and have staff “check on them” often. This shows respect and caring, and patients will be appreciative.
Patients Want to Be Educated
Your patients want to know everything you can teach them about their condition. They want you to provide this education because you are the expert in their minds. They believe what you say. They trust you and will follow your orders completely if you explain them in detail.
Patients are more likely to follow through with medication and treatment plans if you explain to them the advantages and disadvantages of following a plan.
In conclusion, without your patients, you would have no practice. So why not give your patients what they are looking for, so you never have to worry about losing patients. Give them respect, convenience, comfortable environments, education and value.
The more your office is patient-centered, the better results you will see.