In this era of added administrative work, it’s important to slow down and listen to your patients. That’s the key to retaining them.
In 18 years of practice, I am proud of the fact that many families have been going to me for a long time, including multiple generations in some families.
In our training as family physicians, we are taught to build relationships with our patients. We want to take the time to get to know them as people and as part of a family and not just as a disease. These relationships can be developed by taking the time to sit down and listen to patients. I spend more time than many physicians to truly see patients and have found you can be profitable without seeing 30-40 patients/day. I have had many patients comment on the fact that I am always willing to listen to them and they appreciate that.
I also have a dedicated staff that has been with me for several years. They get to know my patients and the patients come to trust them and look for their advice. We work as a team whether my PA sees patients or they are seeing the nurse, I am in the background reviewing the encounters so that the next time I interact with the patient, I am aware of what has happened to them.
Taking the time to make notes regarding patients’ personal lives -vacations, weddings, family events and work changes, then asking about them on the next visit makes patients thinks you care. Many are amazed I remember – thank goodness for good notes! I learn a lot from my patients and enjoy sharing their lives.
We also try to be available for patients from having same -day appointments, early morning and late evening appointments to make it easier to be seen. I also have nurses that are available to triage patients daily. Patients feel better about their care if they can be seen and get their questions answered easily.
In this world of being expected to do more in less time and spend more time on the administrative work of patients, we have to remember the real reason we went into medicine and learn to slow down, listen and take time with our patients and they will come back and refer their friends and family.