When a Physician Leaves

Posted on November 28, 2017 in Healthcare Marketing

Whether it is moving or retiring, when a physician leaves your practice, it impacts patients. And often in a more personal way then you might realize.  

Patients, especially those who have been with your practice for many years, become attached to “their” physician and feel a true loss when he or she leaves. How you communicate this change, acknowledge their loss, and help them to smoothly transition their care to another provider can make the difference between retaining them in your practice and losing them to a competitor. 

Here are a few practical tips:

1. Inform your staff first. Make sure they understand exactly what will happen and when. Provide them with the information needed to assist patients with the transition, including addressing concerns and answering any questions.

2. Communicate in a timely manner. Give at least 30 days notice and more if possible.

3. Send a personal letter to each of the physician’s patients. If possible, have it come from the physician who is leaving. Keep it warm and conversational. Thank them for their trust and loyalty, and assure them that the practice is still there for them. Detail how the transition will take place and provide them a direct contact name and phone number should they have questions. If the letter is coming from the physician who is leaving, have him or her personally introduce the physician(s) who will welcome the patients, including experience and credentials. Have the physician express his or her confidence and trust in those taking over the patients’ care.

4. Don’t forget one-on-one communication. Reinforce and reassure patients affected by the change when they are in the office. The physician leaving should take the opportunity to say good-bye in person, and if possible, personally introduce patients to the physician(s) who will be taking over their care.

5. Don’t forget to send a letter to referring physicians and “friends” of the practice. No one likes to hear news through the grapevine. Thank them for their trust and referrals. Inform them about the timing and assure them of your desire to seamlessly transition patients. Introduce any new providers.

6. Be sure to update your Web site and social media as well.

Change is never easy, but how you handle and communicate that change can make all the difference.

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