By Michael Tetreault, editor-in-chief
Every one of your Patients needs a small deposit of your time, over time, not a collection notice.
Today, I want to briefly share a true story about ‘thank you notes’ and ‘collection letters.’ Two polar opposite topics, especially inside a medical office.
You and I both know there is no ‘thank you’ from the medical practice down the street when you pay the bill before the deadline. And, we’ve probably never received a ‘thank you’ for paying that car payment on-time for the past several months. And, where is the fan-fare from the mortgage company for paying the bill, on-time, again, for the 32nd month in a row? Nothing, silence. Until, you’re a few days late.
We have all received PAST DUE notices, even from a Doctor.
What a ray of sunshine on a bright day. Maybe you forgot, maybe the invoice went to Spam. When your medical office sends one of these dreadful notices that says something like ‘Your urgent attention is required. To prevent collection efforts and additional costs such as attorney fees, please remit payment in full…’ where is the relationship between the Patient and the Practice heading?
What is even crazier is to think we all sign-up for the next appointment before we leave so we can start this [frustrating] process all over again?
‘Thank you’ are two words Doctors and their team members don’t say enough.
These two powerful words can encourage your Patient and significantly increase loyalty.
The one magical piece of paper in your practice that is understated and overlooked, the ‘Thank You’ Note.
True story from a Concierge Medicine practice in Ohio from just this week.
Just yesterday while talking with a Doctor from Ohio, we paused on this topic for a few moments. She said “Before I opened my [Concierge Medicine] practice I used to dread the calls to collect the unpaid payments in my practice. My staff hated those calls and even worse, knew that by sending out those letters, arguments would ensue. It was always a struggle. It created tension between my staff and my Patients. But today, it is much easier. The secret I discovered was I starting using ‘thank you’ notes. I know, it sounds silly. I wrote thank you notes to my patients. They were short and sweet and in some cases for the most random things.”
Personally, I have a goal of writing three thank-you notes a week. It’s a surprisingly simple and cost effective act of kindness.
A pattern-interrupt. Over twenty years ago I was taught the value of one piece of paper. The ‘THANK YOU NOTE.’ I chose embossed stationary with the initials of my first and last name, not the business or logo. I wanted something ‘more personal’ — less official. Despite the digital age, hand-written notes or cards will always be one of the simplest and best ways to say ‘Thank you’ because it’s personal and intentional.
I will conclude today with this final thought.
Every one of your Patients needs a small deposit of your time, over time. Take the time to care about what’s going on in their personal lives, and genuinely caring and remembering what they’re going through. Say this through a random act of kindness in a short note and snail mail it to them. The next time you see me in Atlanta or call me, say this … “I sent a thank you note and here’s what happened …” This is important, not only because it creates a closer bond with your existing Patients, but also because it helps them help you. They are spreading the word about you to their friends, many of whom might not be a current Patient. And, as they do, they are helping build your practice.
In the spirit of thankfulness, let me take just a minute to thank you! I so appreciate that you take the time to read what we have to say, come to our FORUM and email and call us each and every week. I know there are a million different places to find information about practicing medicine, this and that and what not. So, THANK YOU for checking in with me from time to time. It truly amazes me.
Grateful and humbled,
PS – Food for thought … If you have a TV in your medical office, please be sure you are using it. At the very least, run some educational slides about your practice or have age appropriate content on. Be mindful, little eyes may be watching too! For example, we visited an UCC in Atlanta recently and noticed the lobby had inappropriate content on for children and yet, dead silent tvs in the exam room. The DMV however, had educational slides about how to make their process easier. So, DMV = 1; Doctor’s Office = zero.
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