Doctor Reputation

10 Ways to Keep Your Patients

10 Ways to Keep Your Patients

They say what’s harder than getting to the top is staying there. Well keeping patients may be harder than getting new ones. People might found out about you on the internet, a phonebook, or through someone they know so they’ll come visit you. The details of that first visit are vital to whether or not they come back to your office in the future. Long waiting times and rudeness are just a few of the reasons patients may only visit a doctor once and never return. It’s important for physicians to know that it’s not just about being good at their jobs. You could be an exceptional physician but your manners and attitude make it difficult for patients to tolerate you. On the other hand, it’s important to be a good doctor or else you’re just someone who’s fun to have around. There are lots of ways to keep patients satisfied and coming back, these include smiling, hiring great staff members, and reducing waiting times. Let’s take a look at ten important things doctors need to do in order to make sure patients keep returning.

1.  Being good doctors. Anyone can tell the difference between a doctor who knows what they’re doing and another who doesn’t. How competent a doctor is shows through confidence and body language. If you’re shaky and hesitant then patients won’t get the sense that you know what you’re doing. If they can’t trust you why would they come back to you? After all this is their health we’re talking about and they need someone who has enough confidence to be able to take good care of it. Keep learning, keep practicing, and never assume that your medical education is over.

2. Taking care of appointments and waiting time. Personally, I used to go to one of the biggest eye doctors around and he was a great guy, I really liked him, but after three or four visits I stopped going back to him. Waiting three hours in order to see your doctor is a major inconvenience. As a physician you need to realize that your patients have schedules that need to be respected too. It’s also important to keep in mind that a patient might be suffering or in pain while they’re waiting for you. Try to shorten waiting time and schedule appointments correctly as much as possible.

3. Smile. A smile goes a long way. It’s said that if you’re feeling down you should make yourself smile and that’ll automatically make you feel better. Well if your patients see you smile they’ll do the same reflexively and the overall mood will be much better. There’s no point in grimacing or looking upset it’ll just make your patients feel uncomfortable. Also if you look like something’s wrong then your mind is probably preoccupied so you won’t be able to give your patients your full attention.

4. Manners, manners, and more manners. If you’re someone who likes going to work wearing shorts and looking raggedy then medicine will probably bum you out. Being a doctor is one of a few professions where you really need to pay attention to yourself and being very professional and even a role model. You can often spot a doctor at a restaurant or in a public class because of how they look and act. People generally have this superhero image of physicians. If you want your patients to keep coming back you need to live up to it as much as possible. Be nice and affectionate towards your patients within limits. At the same time you don’t want to seem too friendly and creep them out.

5. Practice good hygiene and make sure your patients notice it. Sometimes at a doctor’s office a patient may get the feeling that the doctor’s hands aren’t clean or that the tools aren’t as clean as they should be. This won’t just make them not come back, but it’ll make them extremely uncomfortable throughout the entire session. Having a sink where you wash your hands in front of your patients could be a good idea. Another way to do it is by having a bottle of hand sanitizer on the desk. You could also show them that the instruments you’re using are clean by taking them out of their boxes in front of patients. A clean doctor is something a lot of people pay attention to. After all, they’re at your office to get better not to acquire new infections.

6. Offer them tissue at the end of a test or physical exam. I’ve had an ultrasound by a doctor before and after it was over he didn’t give me tissue to wipe of the gel off my abdomen. You can’t just leave your patients there inconvenienced not knowing what to do or having trouble getting dressed again. If you’re an ophthalmologist give them tissue to wipe off any tears or drops on their face. It’s a simple thing, but it’s easy to forget in the midst of a hectic work schedule and busy days. You could also offer them some water when they come into your office. Going to a doctor or hospital makes some people really nervous which can give them a dry mouth. Some water will help with that and will make them like you care about them and their well being.

7. Talk to them. You need to have a good relationship with your patients. Not just to keep them, but it will also have a positive impact on their health. A lot of doctors just scribble a prescription on a piece of paper and dismiss their patients. Take time to explain their condition to them. Explain the prescription to them and tell them any common side effects of the treatment. Tell them what will happen if they neglect treatment and the complications of the disease. This will show them you care about them and will increase their compliance. It makes them active participators in their own health.     

8. Remember your patients, or at least fake it. It means a lot for someone to be remembered by their doctor. Do your best to at least know the names of your patients. If you can’t do that you can simply very quickly skim their file on your computer right before they come in. That way you can welcome them back or ask them how they’re doing while using their name. This will show you remember and care about them.

9. Hire the right staff. The people who work for you are a reflection of you. Patients see rude or unorganized people at the reception they’re going to think the same of you. Even if you’re the loveliest doctor on the planet, if your staff are hard to deal with or keep messing up appointments and other issues this will bother patients and might make them look for other doctors. Take your time while hiring and make sure you hire those who adequately represent you.

10. Stay connected to patients. Sometimes patients may realize they forgot to ask you a question after they’ve returned home. They may be experiencing side effects of a drug or are worried they’re getting worse rather than better. There are a million reasons a patient may want to contact you for a couple of minutes. Find ways for them to do that. You could do this through social media or through apps dedicated to doctor-patient contact. A doctor who is easily reachable is definitely better than one who isn’t.

These are ten very important things to do and keep in mind if you want to keep the flow in your office. It doesn’t bode well if you keep getting new patients and losing them. It’s important to have a stable base of patients and expand upon it. It’s really not hard to keep patients you just need to be a little more thoughtful and considerate.