Expand Your Practice Through Caring
I don’t know how what he future of healthcare will hold with the changes that are mandated to come because of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Of course, the PPACA may or may not become law, in part or in its entity pending the Supreme Court’s ruling due next summer.
But no matter what becomes of the PPACA, as a healthcare provider you should concentrate on the basics of practice management and treating patients. Continue to be, or become, the type of doctor that you would want to be treated by if you have any health problems. Practice the golden rule of success: People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Remember why you got into the healthcare field in the first place—to help people.
There are several simple procedures which you should incorporate into your practice to show people that you care about them as people, not just as patients.
- Call all new patients personally after their first visit. Patients will be shocked that their doctor actually took the time to see how they are doing.
- Send a hand written note to all new patients welcoming them to the practice.
- Send a note and a make a phone call to any patient who refers a new patient to your practice. People like to feel appreciated and valued.
- Take time to learn about your patient’s life and family. Write facts about them in your notes and when you mention them they will think that you really care about them as a person.
- Address concerns, complaints, or conflicts that patients may have personally. Don’t delegate this task to your staff. This will show that are concerned about them and may help stave off a lawsuit.
- Have a written practice policy that you give to every new patient. This will help them to feel comfortable with your practice and staff.
- Use the patient’s name often when you greet and treat every patient.
- Hire friendly, people oriented staff. You can teach the technical aspects of the job, but personality is hard to teach.
- Adapt treatment programs to meet the patient’s individual needs. Every patient needs to know that they are special, so treat them as such. Listen to your patient’s concerns and let them know how much you care.
Communication is the basis for every successful relationship, including the doctor-patient relationship. You need to conscious of the ‘Curse of Knowledge’, which often makes it hard for doctors to communicate with patients. Simply put the ‘Curse of Knowledge’ is when we know something, we expect everyone else to have the same knowledge. It’s not that we feel superior to others; it’s just that we expect others to have the same knowledge we have so that it is sometimes hard to explain things in terms that they can understand. And, unfortunately, the more expertise that you have the harder it becomes to fathom that others don’t have the same knowledge base. It becomes harder to communicate, the more knowledgeable you become.
Make sure that you don’t become a victim of the ‘Curse of Knowledge’ by taking the time to work on your communication skills. One simple way to ensure that your patients, or your staff for that matter, understand what you mean is to ask them to repeat back what you said in their own words. Try using stories or analogies to illustrate your meaning if you are having difficulty in explaining exactly what you mean in easy to understand terms.
As healthcare becomes more impersonal and regulated by the coming implementation of the PPACA, don’t your practice to suffer from a loss of personal care. Your patients will appreciate it and your practice will be less stressful and more successful as you continue to treat your patients as people and not just patients.
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