By Concierge Medicine Today, Staff Writer
The lobby of your medical practice and reception area tells more to your patients than anywhere else in your practice. If it’s furnished well, tidy and the staff working in this area are well-trained, helpful, smiling and friendly, this can be a good thing. But on the other hand, it can also be a very bad thing.
Each day, you want patients to walk-into your practice, not judge it. So, make sure you do the following things:
- Make patients feel welcome. Every patients at your practice should feel welcome. That means greeting each patient as they arrive with a smile (even if your staff doesn’t feel like it) and being friendly and go out of your way to be courteous at all times. If you have a service window in your lobby area, remember that your staff represents you and the demeanor of your practice, so they have to be smiling and friendly at all times.
- Don’t be too casual. The flip side of not being friendly enough is being a bit too friendly. Your service window staff should never interrupt a conversation. And no matter how casual the atmosphere around your practice is, your staff must always be professional. Even if someone is in pain, aggravated or disruptive, they deserve to be treated with kindness and respect.
- Don’t hide things. Nothing is worse than finding out you owe money from a previous visit, you owe more than a co-pay (if applicable in your practice), or your doctor is on vacation and you’ll be seeing his colleague. According to Concierge Medicine Today polls, these are the most common complaints among patients inside a concierge medicine office. Service window staff shouldn’t lie to patients, deceive them, or be anything other than honest. Is there a delay? Tell the patients as soon as possible. Is there an upcharge for a certain test that was performed? Make sure to mention it. And always let patients know of any increase in pricing of your services and whether the practice is going to be closed on certain upcoming holidays before they leave.
- Do not argue with patients. This might seem obvious, but it’s important. The phrase, “The customer is always right” is a cliché for a reason! When a patient complains, employees should do their best to listen and help. Try to diffuse the situation by understanding and validating their feelings. You should try to fix a problem when possible, or refer the patient to the doctor or office manager if there’s nothing certain staff can do. Never, ever fight with patients or dispute their complaints, even if they’re wrong. If it’s something they are arguing with you about in the lobby, take the conversation to another part of the practice to discuss it. Nothing makes your practice look worse than bad word of mouth, arguing or gossip in front of current patients.
- Don’t make the patient feel rushed. This is concierge medicine. There shouldn’t be a rush! Did you know that more patients leave a concierge medicine practice because they were over-promised and underserved? That’s right. If you promise no-wait appointments, no rushed visits, deliver on your promises. When patients come to your practice, it’s for relief and peace of mind. What they don’t want is to feel rushed and pushed out of the office so the next patient can be served. Isn’t that why you got into this practice in the first place? No matter how crazy the office gets or how many people are waiting on a busy day, make sure patients feel as relaxed and comfortable as possible.
- Ask if the patient for their advice. This is a simple action that can really make you and your employees look like you care about the service you provide … and you do, right? The patient has an opinion if you will simply ask them … ‘did we take care of all your needs today?’ Asking your patients for their opinion and they will share it with you. It could be the best question you ever asked and result in a patient referral or another year or month of membership from someone who was thinking about cancelling their membership with your medical practice until you simply listened to them that day.
The most important thing for a concierge medicine or direct primary care practice to remember is to always be friendly, courteous, helpful, and professional. By keeping these tips in mind, you and your staff can avoid big blunders and keep you from losing patients.