By Michael Tetreault, Editor-in-Chief
MARCH 2017 – Once something becomes familiar, it’s human nature to lose our eye for the details. It can be a very big deal for the Membership Medicine Physician community at-large. As you know, running a Membership Medicine practice requires you maintain highly competitive service offerings and fees to keep hold of your market share.
According to surveys and interviews with the Concierge Medicine Research Collective and the private physician community over the past 5 years, patients will typically retain their membership at a Concierge Medicine practice 2 years longer than a traditional primary care practice. Meaning, most Concierge Doctors can retain a patients loyalty for about 7-9 years, compared with 5-7 years at a non-membership offering primary care or family medical practice.
If patients stop coming to your practice, or stop calling, it’s important to remember they usually have other options they can find from other clinics, centers and doctors in your local area. So what can you do to keep your medical practice running at its best?
Sometimes, you need to look at your medical practice with a fresh pair of eyes – yours, and your staff’s. Here’s how you can audit your practice and see what your patients see.
Do Not Audit Your Medical Practice By Thinking You or Your Spouse Can Become the Patient.
You will never get an accurate perspective of patient relations and customer service if you are the boss and you ask your staff to ‘act like normal.’
The key to this approach is to ask a trusted advisor to be you’re a first-time patient, even an out-of-town consultant you trust. Start with a simple walk up approach. Is every area (inside and out) of your practice clean, presentable and professional?
Next, approach the front desk or service window [if applicable] and pay attention to the staff (or the primary point of contact for newly arriving patients) non-verbals, smiles and reactions. Are they friendly and eager to help? Are they on the phone, a personal call or continue to remain on the phone after you’ve arrived? How do they interact with other staff or your family you may have brought with you? Is the paperwork they ask you to complete explained simply and clearly? Is this the first impression you want patients to have? Remember, these people represent your business, livelihood, your reputation and you, and they will deal with virtually your entire patient base. Good communication skills and intrapersonal skills are a must.
Second, you may also want to take a look at your technology specifically your POS system and patient engagement software. If you’re using tablet devices, do they still work well? Are they easy to use? Are they synced with your latest disclaimers? Is simple to navigate and available to e-sign on your tablet(s) or iPad(s)?
Do these devices get regularly updated and cleaned? #germs
Apple advises that fans of its products do not use alcohol-based cleaners on iPhones or iPads. Another way to keep your gadgets clean is to keep your hands clean. Ardis Dee Hoven, a member of the American Medical Association’s board of trustees, told US News and World Report that carrying portable hand sanitizers and using them regularly may also be useful. If you’re worried about your keyboard and phone, Hoven also recommends wiping them down with a bleach solution from time to time, but be careful to not get moisture in any openings or ports.
Pull up your Medical Practice Website.
Does it need a fresh look? Does it load completely within 3-5 seconds? Patience is a virtue, but for many, it is often a difficult concept to practice. That is especially true for web users visiting a website that takes a long time to load. Are the services and special offers still valid that your advertising? Does it work as well on mobile devices as it does on a PC or laptop? Any problems in these areas can lead to losing new patients and existing ones too.
Audit Your Medical Practice With Your Staff
Your eyes shouldn’t be the only set of eyes involved in this exercise. Enlist the help of your staff. Have your staff experience the practice as patients and give you their input. In particular, get the nurses or PAs out of the back office and into the front office and vice-versa as observers. Having the total experience, from start to finish, can spur creativity and help fine-tune your operations.