Every day in our offices, patients present with a variety of ailments and conditions. As podiatric professionals we are trained to quickly recognize, diagnose and treat these conditions in a way that sets us apart from other fields of medicine. I remember early on in my career, I overheard a patient ask the doctor, “Why did you ever get into feet?” The answer that was provided, I now understand to hold true every day. “I got into feet because when patients leave my office they feel better than when they came in. Even if they are still having discomfort, I have given them the tools to understand their condition and have instructed them as to what they can do to feel better.”
For this reason it is important that Podiatrists make sure they carry all of the “tools” required to diagnose and treat the most commonly treated conditions. This includes everything from digital X-Ray and diagnostic ultrasound to stocking commonly used DME items such as night splints, walking boots, ankle braces, and cash related products such as topical antifungals, medical strength moisturizers, and pre-fabricated inserts. Having everything right there in your office is all part of the instant gratification your patients are looking for. Convenience is what it’s all about and when your patients are using the products of your choice, compliance rates increase, outcomes significantly improve and referrals go through the roof! The idea is to take what you have already experienced (whether you realize it or not) and build on that.
This begins by offering a variety of products without becoming a wholesale club! Many physicians never consider carrying more than a few products because “they just don’t have the space” when in reality, almost any visible area of the office can be easily be converted to display samples of your most frequently recommended products. I would advise any podiatrist who is truly committed to increasing patient satisfaction as well as cash flow to try this. After all, you are the foot and ankle specialist, and your patients have chosen you to help resolve their conditions and ailments. You are not a salesperson, you are offering the products and services that your patients need with a no pressure approach.
The last part of the compliance to profitability puzzle is solved by investing in a highly trained staff. When a new employee is hired, make sure time is allotted for that individual to shadow each member of your current staff (including you, the physician). This will provide great insight into your treatment methods as well as a deeper understanding of patient types and the symptoms they present with. This shadowing process will also improve scheduling methods, and allow for fewer communication mishaps. In a similar manner, your podiatric assistants should be well trained to evaluate patients in a way that allows you to diagnose more efficiently and, in many cases, foresee which products (self-pay and reimbursable DME items) you will be suggesting. These factors will ensure that your clinic hours run smoothly and gives your patients confidence knowing that they have chosen the right facility for their Podiatric care. After all, happy feet walking out means more aching feet hobbling in!