Is Your Practice Minding Its Manners?

When a patient first comes into your practice, what do they see and hear? Do they see staff communicating nicely to each other or are employees yelling directions across the office? Is the doctor in such a rush that he is only paying attention to his phone and not the patients? If both of these things are true, would you want to be a patient in that practice? Some of the things that are quickly forgotten in the running of a medical practice (which is a business, too) are manners.

Here are five quick tips your practice can use to be sure your patients are being treated in a courteous manner and improve your practice’s perception:

  1. Greet your patients at the door. When a patient arrives, be sure that their first image is of a smiling face. I know that this may be common sense, but it does make a difference – especially if the friendly faces and actions continue through the whole appointment. This will make the patient’s experience so much better, which will help with your patient satisfaction and retention.
  2. Don’t be in too much of a hurry. All medical practices move at a fast pace, I get it. But moving at a fast pace doesn’t mean you have to give short shrift to patients. All employees, the doctors included, need to take the time to truly understand why a patient has come to your practice. Sometimes, this can be done as simply as making good eye contact and speaking with the patient face to face.
  3. No dress code, but be sure staff are “in uniform”. What this means is that staff should not have frayed edges on their scrubs or holes in anything. Also, wearing similar colors (not necessarily all the same, but coordinating is great) creates a sense that the staff are all in this together. To not stifle the staff’s imagination, you could also have “Free Day Fridays” when staff can wear their favorite non-solid color scrubs – you could even make it themed (e.g. superheroes, holidays, etc.).
  4. Talk it out. As I mentioned earlier, patients will notice if the staff are truly working together or if they are working together in spite of each other. If your staff members have strained relationships, then it can bleed over into the practice’s relationship with the patients. Staff members should never complain about other staff members to patients, and staff members should try to be encouraging as often as possible. Creating a good working environment is key.
  5. Train, train, train, and then train some more. Not just on the technical side of things – training also needs to happen for the soft skills and communications skills of staff members.  Any time a trouble spot is identified, use it as a teaching tool for the whole staff. Training on how to react in certain situations will also make the practice look better to patients.

I know that all of this may seem like common sense, but manners matter. Assuming the care you receive is the same at both practices, which practice would you rather go to – one that has great manners or one that doesn’t? A little bit of work on manners can go a long way in strengthening the relationship between your practice and its patients.