How to make a great first impression at your medical practice

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There's a lot to be said for first impressions. So, when do your new patients form their first impressions of you?

There's a lot to be said for first impressions. Scientists say they are made within the first three seconds of meeting someone. We form our initial opinion of just about everything - a new song, a new place, a new person - in those first three seconds, our senses working in harmony or disharmony.

So here's a short multiple choice quiz. When do your new patients form their first impressions of you?

  • When you enter the exam room?
  • When you introduce yourself?
  • When you shake their hand?

If you answered A, B, or C, you are wrong. Sorry for the trick question. Each patient makes her first impression of you before she even sees you. There are at least three important opportunities for you to make a good impression before you first meet your patient. Each has the power to affirm a patient's hope that you offer the answers she seeks or make your encounter an uphill event. If each of these three moments of truth is positive, your patients will have a positive first impression of you even before laying eyes upon you.

This is simple stuff, but it is the stuff we trip over every day.

As a physician, you get a second chance to make a good first impression, but why risk it? By optimizing these other first impressions, you will find your patients like and trust you before they even set eyes on you. It's a big advantage.

About the Author

Lucien W. Roberts, III, MHA, FACMPE, is Chief Administrator of Gastrointestinal Specialists, Inc., a 31-provider practice in Central Virginia. He has been a Physicians Practice contributor for the past decade.