Step 1. How to write a thank-you note [to a Patient]

“What if Doctors could “scale” Kindness? I think they can and it only costs $0.55 cents! I say all of this to say that the data supporting one simple, unsolicited, seemingly insignificant piece of paper could change everything between you and your Patient(s) and forever cement the relationship between the Patient-Physician.” ~Editor, CMT/Author, The Doctor’s Expanded Guide to Concierge Medicine

To help you face your fears, we also put together a monthly “Patient Gratitude System” that you, your staff, your spouse and team can use to keep the conversations and grateful attitude running all year long in a new online, on-demand, take at your own pace, Master Class: How to Create A Patient Gratitude System.

By Concierge Medicine Today, Editor

How do you celebrate your Patients? Or, do you ever celebrate something or someone in your practice by writing them a note?

For many Physicians, PAs, Office Managers and the like working in medicine, you love this idea, but it’s still a little awkward.

I totally get it.

Today, we’re going to help you do the one thing that might have been holding you back.

That is, START.

Keely Chace is a Hallmark Master Writer, says “It’s good business to send a handwritten thank-you note for the courtesy of an interview, for referrals or opportunities, for above-and-beyond work done for you, for mentoring and many other professional situations. After an interview, a gracious thank-you card can distinguish one candidate from another. More generally, it makes the sender memorable, leaving a positive impression and paving the way for a lasting business relationship.”

Editor: What Does Hospitality Have To Do With Healthcare?

Shutterfly even talks about this and provides several helpful examples. They say “Many people underestimate the power of a simple handwritten thank you note. These days it seems easy to send a quick email, text message or phone call. They all get the job done, right? But a handwritten thank you note says more. It says that you went out of your way to sit down and write to those who did something for you. A handwritten thank you note conveys thoughtfulness and sincerity and is the perfect way to express your gratitude to anyone and for any occasion.”

Writer, avid quilter, blogger and Mom, Jeanne Field says “The hardest part of writing a thank-you note, for many, is just starting it.”

And finally, if you’re an avid listener or reader of Concierge Medicine Today (CMT), then you’ve heard me say this before.

“Five words from you, mean more than fifty words about you.”

Your Patients adore you. They do. But they need to see it, hear it and feel it from you.

Just recently here at CMT, we asked Physicians and their staff throughout the Pandemic of 2020 “HOW MANY HANDWRITTEN Notes or Personalized THANK YOU NOTES Do You Write To Your Patients Per Month?”

  • 32% – “I write between 1-2 per month.”
  • 14% – “Between 3-6 per month.”
  • 21% – “Between 7-10 per month.”
  • 11% – “Between 11-20 per month.”
  • 6% – 150+ Thank You Notes/Handwritten Notes Per Month (or 4-5 notes, personally addressed per day).
  • 16% – None. Zero.

Most Physicians we talk to every day say the number one way they grow their medical practice, patient panel, etc., is by word of mouth-patient referral.

But this doesn’t happen by accident. It doesn’t simply happen because you were nice to the last patient of the day but ran behind schedule all week.

There’s truth in the statement you’ve heard me say “Patients who feel appreciated will always do more than is expected.

I say all of this to say that the data supporting one simple, unsolicited, seemingly insignificant piece of paper could change everything between you and your Patient(s) and forever cement the relationship between the Patient-Physician.

So, let’s get your Patients talking! Let’s create a memorable mark on their life with a few simple words in a handwritten note that will get them remarking to others about just how wonderful you, your practice and your care truly are in your community.

Here are a few helpful tips to get you started!

  • Reasons To START!
    • A generic letter, postcard or mailer about your practice sent will likely be in the garbage, right? Handwritten notes, short or long-form separate YOU from the competition. Receiving a note in the mail will take your Patients by surprise.
    • Let me put this out there first. Mailed Letters and personally addressed, handwritten note cards Get Opened! According to the U.S. Postal Regulatory Commission, the average American received only 10 pieces of personal mail for the year in 2017. This rarity is why handwritten letters feel so valuable.
    • If you’re looking to create more positive word of mouth-patient referrals, give your patients something worthy or actually remarking to others about. What do you think would happen if just ten out of hundreds of your patients received a personal, handwritten note from their Doctor? I bet they would keep it in a special place. You probably have a few handwritten notes or personal letters that you’ve kept as memorabilia. I know from experience that people would tell their neighbors, family and friends about a note they received from their Doctor. It’s truly that rare! It’s also truly that powerful and meaningful. That’s how word of mouth – patient referrals start. It doesn’t happen by accident. Get strategic.
    • Next, you don’t need permission to do this. Stop over-thinking gratitude. Truett Cathy, the former CEO and Founder of Chick-Fil-A once said, “The universal sign that someone needs encouragement is if they are still breathing.” To further inspire and encourage you to take START, one of your peers, a Physician turned entrepreneur commented on a CMT post just yesterday about this topic happening in Concierge Medicine in February 2021 on LinkedIn and wrote “It would be fabulous if we could realistically scale kindness.”
  • The Purpose Behind the Card
    • Just say a little hello
      • This one is probably the number one ‘reason or purpose’ behind the Patient-Physician handwritten gratitude system we teach to Concierge Doctors in our “Master Class: How to Create A Patient Gratitude System.” It’s the most common and it provides the entry point or launchpad for lines of communication to open again with a Patient whom you haven’t seen in months or create an opportunity to renew old relationships with former or luke-warm patients. Whether it’s someone you speak to all the time or someone you haven’t spoken to for a while, dropping a ‘hello’ through their mailbox is all the more personal and surprising than an alert on their phone screen.
    • It’s been a while since I’ve seen you in the office
    • Recent diagnosis
    • Recent accomplishment of weight-loss goal (or other lifestyle goal you are aware of)
    • Special Occasions
    • An invitation you received (but won’t be attending)
    • Just Because
    • Kind Words the Patient said to you
    • Kind Words the Patient said to your staff
    • Bereavement
    • A graduation in their family
    • A gift they brought you (or your entire staff)
    • A Thank You for remembering your birthday

Home Depot’s CEO Did This 25,000 Times. Science Says You Should Do It Too

You know as well as I do, follow up with a Patient after you’ve met someone for the first time will leave a lasting impression. It sets the tone for open-communication and relationship between Physician and Patient for years to come. Imagine it, you’ve just visited with a new patient for the first time for the past one hour and 45-minutes. They’ve shared intimate and personal details they rarely share with anyone else. They leave. What’s next?

The answer, keep those Patient-Bond embers burning and show what a class act you are with a handwritten, follow-up note.

Then, see what happens next?!

RELATED STORY | Inspiration
5 Reasons Why We Should Send More Handwritten Letters

  • The Beginning | How to Start | What to Write

    • This is your chance to say the two most important words in the card-thank you. Although it might seem like two short words, there are many different ways to say thanks. Just like a smile or a kind, insignificant gesture to a Patient you can tell needs a little more attention today, remember who you are speaking to and use your own personal communication style when choosing how and what to write to them. Some examples of how to do this include:
      • It made my day when…
      • Thank you so much for…
      • Thanks a million…
      • I want to sincerely thank you for…
      • I appreciate that you…
      • I can’t get over how grateful I am for…
      • I wanted to give my many thanks for…
  • The Middle (Tip! Be Specific)

      • “This has been a challenging time, and I appreciate your kind words so much.”
      • “You have no idea how much your kind words meant to our staff and I.”
      • “There was nothing random about your acts of kindness. Thank you.”
      • “I can never thank you enough. But this is a start.”
      • “You always know how to make life brighter for everyone in our office.”
      • “You are always so helpful.”
      • “You make the world and our community a nicer place.”
      • “You went above and beyond, and we are so grateful for you.”
      • “You took common courtesy to an uncommon level. We’re so grateful for your help.”
  • The End
    • Now its the time to close it. Again, depending on whom you are writing to your closing sign off may vary on the personal to formal scale. Examples of closing statements or sign-offs include:
      • Sincerely,
      • All the Best,
      • Kind regards,
      • Many Thanks,
      • Take Care,
      • Thank you again,
      • Warmly,
      • Warmest thanks,
      • Beyond grateful,
      • Gratefully,
      • With gratitude,
      • Most Sincerely, 
Photo Credit/Source: (C) Concierge Medicine Today, LLC/The DocPreneur Leadership Podcast

RELATED STORY | Need more help with what to write?
Express your gratitude with these thank-you messages and ideas from Hallmark writers.

“If you dismiss the notion of handwritten notes as a ‘nice thing but who has time for that?’ … you get in line behind the rest of the world.” ~Jeff Henderson, Author/Communicator

Remember, in the business of medicine, more specifically, Concierge Medicine, communication is all about solidifying patient-physician relationships. It’s about establishing them, keeping them strong and making your practice remarkable and memorable. So, sending a handwritten note or a simple and short thank-you is a standout way to accomplish all those things!

Don’t Underestimate The Impact (And Business Value) Of A Simple “Thank You” Note

House of Magnets, part of the Graphic Business Solutions family of brands, recently wrote, “Science is increasingly showing that simple exercises in expressing gratitude, like writing notes, are powerful ways to increase a grateful mindset. These actions actually affect the ways the brain works to remember the feelings of gratitude long after the exercise is complete. In addition to the positive effects on the brain, it turns out that written expressions of gratitude are also good for the heart. Like, your actual, physical, beating heart”

So if you’re still searching for your reason to START … I can tell you that this simple step is good for the Physician’s mind, body and soul. I truly believe that. I’ve seen how it will renew your mind. I’ve seen and heard Physician’s tell stories about how it filled their soul with gratitude, their mind and spirits with kindness during a difficult time and that it’s just plain good for Patients and your practice!

Inc., Magazine writer, Elisa Boxer interviewed Frank Blake, former CEO of Home Depot about his Handwritten Note/Gratitude System he created over his seven year stint at Home Depot. Over the course of that tenure, he said he wrote roughly 25,000 personally addressed, handwritten notes to employees and customers. Boxer added in the article Letting people know you’re thinking of them creates a chance for meaningful connection. It also creates a keepsake they can look back on and remember that you took the time to reach out.

Humble at the Top: Why These CEOs Still Write Thank You Notes

Self-care, isn’t selfish. You matter to us as your Patients. Keep your head high and simply, START!

Need more help? We have created a monthly Master Class: How to Create A Patient Gratitude Systemthat will provide you with more simple tips like this you can do to keep your Patients talking about you all year long, year after year.

To help you face your fears, we also put together a monthly “Patient Gratitude System” that you, your staff, your spouse and team can use to keep the conversations and grateful attitude running all year long in a new online, on-demand, take at your own pace, Master Class: How to Create A Patient Gratitude System.

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