A Simple Solution for “Doorknob Questions”


We’ve all been there: after examining Mrs. Macintyre, diagnosing her podiatric problem and patiently taking the time to explain treatment options, follow-up procedures, etc. you are ready to move on to your next patient. You stand up to signal that you’re getting ready to leave the room and you ask, “Is there anything else you would like to discuss today, Mrs. Macintyre?” She replies no. You say goodbye, close the chart and put your hand on the doorknob to go when she says, “Doctor, there is one more thing I’d like to talk to you about.” To stop again and re-start the conversation will put you behind schedule and give waiting patients a reason to be annoyed with you, to brush off Mrs. Macintyre will leave her with a bad taste in her mouth about the level of care she received.

One of the great benefits of membership in the Institute for Podiatric Excellence and Development (IPED) is that you have the opportunity to share experiences like this peer to peer and receive a wealth of helpful information that can benefit your podiatric practice. Out of just such a sharing came the following solution to this universal practitioner problem.

The Question Card

When a patient checks in with the receptionist at the front desk for their appointment, they are handed a card with the doctor’s name on top and the question: “What 3 questions would you like answered today?” Lines underneath the question are provided for them to write out the 3 questions.

While the patient is in the reception area or the exam room they can take the time to fill out the card with the questions they would like to discuss with the doctor during his or her visit. When the physician enters the exam room they take the card and look at the questions. This lets the doctor know immediately what’s important to the patient, which eliminates the mind-reading or trying to read between the lines during patient-doctor interaction. It also allows the patients to get down on paper what their goals are for the visit so they don’t get distracted by the conversation and forget what they wanted to know until the last minute. It also gives a chance to deal with subjects that patients might be embarrassed to ask out loud.

Practitioners who have used this simple technique have found it greatly reduces the number of “doorknob questions” that they get and results in greater patient satisfaction.

If you are looking for ways to connect with podiatric professionals at all stages of their careers from student to seasoned professional, contact our Executive Director, Ruth Ann Donahue by calling: 978-296-7634.