Prioritizing Patient Service: 3 Tips for Practices

September 6, 2014

Your relationships with patients play a huge role in attracting potential patients to your medical practice. Don't miss out due to poor patient service.

The most important but overlooked issue in healthcare is patient service. Today, patient-to-patient influences are stronger than ever. With the proliferation of the Internet and instant connectivity, patients are able to instantly spread information about healthcare practitioners and their offices.

Here are three ways to prioritize patient service in your medical practice:

1. Have the right mindset

During my collegiate business studies, I discovered a quote that personifies the achievement of every business. Peter Drucker stated, “Every practice is in business for one reason: the customer [patient].” All activities and internal functions rely on acquiring and retaining patients. Simply put, healthcare practitioners require a laser like focus on patient service.

Second, doctors tend to become involved in a myriad of tactical issues that can alter focus and create stress. Therefore, they need to be confident about their achievements. And, they must continually maintain confidence with staff even during volatile times. This also includes operating the practice using prudent risk. Removal from the comfort zone is always difficult for habitual practice owners.

2. Have the right people

Patient service comes down to proper communication. When doctors and staff poorly communicate with one another and with patients, service fails.

Patients and prospects are enamored by increased communication. The more you tell them, the more comfortable they become. Remember they are investing in your sage advice on health. Communicate the rationale for paperwork, procedural issues, signatures, etc. Ensure the phones are answered promptly and with rapt professionalism. Finally, when patients are serviced appropriately they inform others of their positive experience. Such feedback assists with decreasing marketing and advertising costs while also retaining current patients.

Also, spend time and get to know your patients and their families. Patients want a provider they know and trust. When healthcare practitioners are rushing from treatment room to treatment room this illustrates inward focus, a big turn off to patients.

Always remember:
Patients are the most important people.
Patients are not dependent on us.
Patients are not an interruption of our practice.

3. Care for your space

Individuals always judge books by their covers, and patients are no different when it comes to how they perceive your medical practice. On a recent appointment with a supplier, I could not find a spot to park my car. All employees were in visitor spots. On another visit, I entered the main lobby of a potential client's office and it looked like a hurricane had struck recently.  These images leave a certain perception of company operations.

Simply put, pictures say a thousand words. The reception area must be tidy, organized, and exemplary of the service you provide. Staff should dress professionally and preferably have nametags. It took five trips to my current chiropractor before I even knew the name of his receptionist. 

The cacophony of competition is too strong to avoid the power of patient service. With many practices and many patients having the power to influence other patients, service is the marketing differentiator. Ironically, many healthcare practitioners look at how many patients they see per week. You might want to consider how many patients don’t see you because of poor patient service.