“ID? Insurance card?”
Those were the first words robotically uttered to a friend of mine recently at her very first appointment at a large medical practice.
Not, “Good morning, how are you today?” or “Welcome to our practice!”
No eye contact. No warm smile. Just a command.
She felt like a widget on an assembly line rather than a human with real health concerns.
Disconnect — A Common Problem
Sadly, this isn’t the only story I’ve heard like this in recent years. Increasingly, I find medical practices, especially as they consolidate and become larger, lack the “connection culture” that is so critical to any business but is essential in health care.
The heart of effective patient care is building patient connections and relationships. And empathy — the foundation of relationship-building — may also be your most powerful marketing tool. It is about truly understanding and feeling what your patients are experiencing and looking at your practice through their eyes.
Fostering Empathy and Connection Throughout Your Medical Practice
“Connection culture” must be taught, fostered and embraced throughout your entire practice — from the front desk to the physician team. And it is not just something experienced during a patient visit but during every single patient contact — on your web site, on the phone, and in e-mail and patient portal communication. It is the warmth, consideration and energy you bring to every single encounter.
Examine Your Practice
- Are patients greeted warmly when they come through your doors?
- Can patients easily access human support when they reach out to your practice with a problem or need?
- Are patient questions or requests handled in a timely manner?
- Does your team communicate regularly if there are any unexpected delays that may impact a patient’s experience?
- Do you proactively educate patients about what to expect from an office visit or procedure (i.e., how long it will take, testing or imaging that may be taken, what they need to bring, post-care instructions, etc.) to help put them at ease and prevent issues or complaints?
- Does your practice regularly survey your patients to ask about their experience with your practice? And more importantly, do you act on any negative feedback you receive and implement changes to prevent problems from recurring?
Bottom line: Does your practice treat your patients as you would want to be treated?
Patients are becoming more empowered and comfortable sharing their experiences online through social media and review sites. As a result, a “connection culture” that encompasses personalized care and positive patient experiences is more important than ever before. Is your practice up for the challenge?