Etiquette Tips for Medical Practices

January 17, 2014
Marisa Torrieri

,
Aubrey Westgate

Good manners lead to highly satisfied patients. Here are our top 15 etiquette tips for physicians and staff.

Good manners lead to highly satisfied patients. Here are our top 15 etiquette tips for physicians and staff.

1. Introduce yourself - even if you are wearing a name tag, even if you are the third or fourth person to see patients during their visits, and even if they might never see you again or remember your name.

2. Ask patients how they would like to be addressed, and address them in that same manner at each visit, beginning when they enter the practice.

3. Keep perfumes and fragrances to a minimum.

4. Don't chew gum! You might think this is a small thing, but it's often considered very offensive, especially to older patients.

5. Never let patients hear you complain, especially about coworkers or other patients.

6. Keep patients apprised of waiting time, and offer to reschedule if the wait is going to be lengthy.

7. Apologize for delays and thank patients for waiting.

8. Be genuine and smile often. Remember: You wouldn't have a practice without your patients.

9. Avoid the phrase "No problem." Instead, reply with "My pleasure" or "You're welcome" when patients (and others) thank you. People don't want to hear you considered your interaction with them a problem, but then decided it wasn't.

10. After escorting a patient to an exam room, ask, "Is there anything I can do to make you comfortable while you wait for the physician?"

11. Make a physical connection with patients, such as shaking hands, before beginning exams or going to the computer.

12. Really listen to patients and take action based on what you learn.

13. Use words patients can understand. They are nervous enough without thinking they are also supposed to know the latest medical terminology and jargon.

14. Send a handwritten "thank you" note to new patients and referring physicians.

15. Acknowledge the death of a patient by sending a sympathy note to his or her family.

Sources: P.J. Cloud-Moulds, of consulting firm Turnaround Medical AR Recovery; Darlene Das, of etiquette consulting company Today's Etiquette; Karen Hickman, of etiquette consulting firm Professional Courtesy, LLC; Meryl Luallin, of consulting firm SullivanLuallin Group; Elizabeth MacDonald, of etiquette consulting firm The Verbal Edge; Audrey "Christie" McLaughlin, of medical practice consulting firm McLaughlin Sales Group LLC; and Carol Stryker, of medical practice consulting firm Symbiotic Solutions.

Marisa Torrieri is an associate editor for Physicians Practice. She can be reached at marisa.torrieri@ubm.com.

Aubrey Westgate is an associate editor for Physicians Practice. She can be reached at aubrey.westgate@ubm.com.

This article originally appeared in the January 2014 issue of Physicians Practice.