Marketer-entrepreneur Seth Godin enjoys discussing the reduced power of marketers’ post-TV-industrial complex, meaning it’s tough to command the attention of whomever, whenever.
Doctors are sometimes similarly hindered because although patients are forced to see them at some point, the doctor has little control over the opinions patients form at that first moment of truth – especially if first-time jitters are involved.
But there are steps physicians and their practices can take to make a patient’s experience less anxious, which can ultimately drastically change first impressions, define the tone of patient relationships, lead to positive patient referrals and maybe even generate more positive Yelp reviews for your practice.
It’s a win across the board.
Guiding a Patient’s First Office Visit
First of all, be honest to patients, and do so as quickly as I’m asking you to do so here. Patients should know upfront how long they will wait (more or less) and what they can expect from a medical procedure.
When speaking to arriving patients, skip the medical and financial jargon. Explaining facts in a language they can understand will affect the way they feel about being at your practice.
Consider redesigning fill-in forms or promoting self-registration at your office. Focusing on negative space and concise language with your registration form design, as well asking patients to do it themselves, gives them a sense of comfort and control.
Redecorate Your Office
Some patients are rubbed the wrong way by the low temperatures, stark white walls and halogen lighting of many medical practices. Why not switch things up?
Warmer wall colors and pleasant art will promote a more welcoming, healing environment. Custom lighting will take your project a step further, seeing as the harshness of fluorescent bulbs aren’t conducive to a more healthy environment.
It wouldn’t hurt to add wall-mounted TV sets in both the waiting room and patient rooms if your budget allows it, and consider giving patients access to remote controls. Bored patients tend to develop anxiety and restlessness, and studies show they’re more likely to be unpleasant during your face-to-face time.
Add real plants to your office décor and consider providing coffee and snacks. Also, install water fountains to drown out any disagreeable medical sounds around your office, and use natural essential oils in a diffuser to outdo any medicinal smells that can possibly cause patients to conjure up negative emotions.
It’s important to realize, however, that there is a difference between quelling boredom and bombarding patients with additional stressors or excessive stimuli, resulting in a sensory overload that can augment anxiety.
Reminding a patient of a medical procedure or appointment by phone is common among some practices, but it’s not always executed properly. As a patient, I don’t want to hear a receptionist mumble some reminder from “the doctor’s” office, about “having” to be present tomorrow morning “at some point.”
First off, calling a patient, referring to them by name and asking how they’re doing goes a long way. Not only is it very likely for a first-time patient to forget a consultation, kind reminders make a patient feel wanted. This eases the tension a patient experiences when he or she feels compelled or forced to visit a physician.
Don’t stop at phone calls – an occasional text message or email is nice. This will demonstrate to patients with faster lifestyles – financial consultants, entrepreneurs or maybe even marketers – that you’re willing to adapt to their needs and proves you aren’t adverse to newer technologies, which could ease any patient’s tension.
Of course, always offer to incur text message charges if this is one of the patient’s concerns. And above all, be grateful to patients – thank them for their thank-yous, so to speak.
What do you do to ease your patients’ anxiety?Tweet