As a Direct Care practitioner, you’re doing so much more than practicing medicine. You’re telling one of the most important stories our country, and perhaps the world, needs to hear today. You’re telling the story of happiness. Of freedom. Of satisfaction. Of care.
Your story paints a picture for healthcare patients. This picture isn’t abstract nor is it intangible. It’s vivid with color, the depth of its honesty and transparency reaching into their souls and telling them that better is possible.
In this three-part series, we’ll dig deep into some ways you can step outside your medical mindset and tell your patients a more engaging story. In return, they’ll keep coming back and sing your praises to
What you do matters.
Every interaction you have with your patients tells the story of what healthcare should look like. In it’s simplest form, this step is just about taking advantage of the foundation Direct Care was built on. It’s sticking to your word and putting your patients first in the following ways:
If you offer same day scheduling, make it happen.
Remember, your patients are probably used to waiting three weeks for an appointment, spending an hour in the waiting room, and then being shuffled right back out the door 10 minutes later. You can show them they don’t have to put up with that nonsense for another minute.
Respond in a timely fashion.
You’ve chosen to keep a limited patient count in order to make time for everyone. So since you don’t have back to back to back appointments scheduled 15 minutes apart, you likely have some form of downtime throughout your day. Use it to keep on top of patient correspondence. You might have six patients to deal with in one day, but they’re only concerned with one doctor… they want to know they’re just as important to you as you are to them. A simple response can go a long way to prove that.
Staff your office appropriately.
You don’t need a whole crew of people to man your DPC practice. You might be the only physician in it! But if you’re behind closed doors with a patient, who’s manning the front desk? The phones? Someone should be there. A nurse. An assistant. A spouse. The goal should be to make it appear to patients that you’re running a smooth operation at all times – even if you are literally running from one thing to another. Remember, your patients come first; they need to walk away assured of that every time they interact with your office. That means knowing you’re not chasing your tail trying to handle busy days on your own. Patients know what happens when things get busy… they fall through the cracks.
Always take that extra step.
If your patients came from a traditional healthcare setting (which they probably did) chances are they’re used to getting the bare minimum out of their care. You’re a different story; you have the opportunity to train them to expect more. Make it a habit to give them a coupon (if one’s available) for the prescription you just sent off to their pharmacy. Go ahead and fill them in on the ways you’re saving them money, whether it be through the wholesale price you can offer, the discounted lab you’re providing or maybe even the free stitches! Don’t forget about the kiddo in tow – they really love stickers and suckers. Cover other areas of their life and health outside the scope of what they’re being seen for that day; show them you care that much. Train yourself to think this way and your patients will come to expect it. Which is exactly what you want.
Provide a relaxed environment.
When you enter that exam room, set the mood immediately. Let them know that no matter what you just came from, you’re their priority now. Maybe you do this by asking them how their day’s going so far, following up with discussion from your last visit, or recommending a restaurant that serves the kind of food you’ve figured out you both enjoy. Comfortable, relaxed, extended. You might spend every second of the 30 minuted allotted slot talking with your patient, but that’s the Direct Care version of patient care. It’s what you signed up for and if you don’t have your day set up to spend this kind of time, something’s wrong.
Thank your patients for their time.
Does this one feel a little backwards? Usually it’s the patient thanking the doc for working them into an already tight schedule, right? Time to turn the tables. You have a million reasons to thank them. You’re the one providing a service, but they’re the ones entrusting their care to you. They’re the reason you get to do what you love every day. They’re who pays the bills, and they’re who you think about all the time. So thank them for taking time out of their day to allow you to care for them. Thank them for reaching out and trusting you. Show them the value of human interaction and real, live, personal relationships between healthcare providers and patients. They’ll see very quickly that you genuinely care about, well, their care. And if you need any further convincing that relationships with your patients should be top of mind, this article over at the Harvard Business Review makes the strong statement that healthy patient-doctor relationships actually drive healthier outcomes. What’s not to love about that?
These are some of the ways your actions tell your story. Your very, very powerful story. Direct Care has laid the groundwork – all you have to do is follow through.
Stay tuned for Part Two of this series, where we talk about how your practice’s branding can tell your story even when you’re not there.