A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of having a Medicare employee (or at least that’s what he claimed) enter (of course without warning or without an appointment) my office and stated, “I Need to take some pictures.” He never stated his name, or showed a card or asked for pictures of anything specific. However, having been practicing for almost 9 years now, I know not to mess with Medicare so I politely replied, “Sure thing! What is it that you need pictures of?” Apparently, that was the wrong question to ask because the next 20 minutes of my life were not only painful, but shocking.
You are in your office meeting with an elderly mother, your patient, and her daughter. There is strong resistance from the daughter to a much needed treatment plan you are proposing for the elder mother. The elder mother wants the treatment, but is dependent on her daughter for care-giving and for financial decisions. You know she needs this treatment. Conflict: What do you do?
The current rage of practice management and marketing is the “meet and greet.” You cannot attend a seminar or read an article in one of the many podiatry magazines without suggestions such as: 1) have the doctors do a meet and greet at the local hospital, or 2) have your staff set one up with a primary care physician practice. Employing the services of a marketing person is useful to promote and educate others about your practice to local businesses and other related health care providers such as physical therapy centers, other specialists, and pharmacies. The other trend in vogue right now, which is very similar in nature, is the term “lunch and learn.” These are all excellent ideas and should definitely be implemented if you haven’t already done so, but an aspect that often needs constant reinforcement is the relationship between doctor and patient. This should be your first marketing implementation, and I would like to give some helpful reminders to what I‘ll title the “10 steps to the doctor-patient meet and greet.”
Have you ever anguished over a phone call to a disgruntled patient, or experienced sweaty palms when you had to make a presentation in front of your colleagues? Have you ever been intimidated by hospital administrator who calls you to his\her office for a discussion about your admitting practices? If you answered 'yes' to one or all of these questions, then you will want to read the rest of this article that will help you deal with those feelings and will provide suggestions for turning fear into fuel.*
When we completed our medical training a medical generation or two ago, both of us knew doctors who were unique and special in their ability to listen to patients, perform a thorough physical exam, and order a minimal number of tests which often led to the diagnosis. Today, many of us, including the authors, have found that the art of listening to our patients has become lost or marginalized.
The perception of time spent with your patient is related to your energy directed toward them. Their psychological and medical needs can be fulfilled in a short time with simple techniques. This starts with their perception and expectations. Their expectations can be exceeded by making their perceptions reality. Much of this information shows common courtesies our parents taught us as children, which are frequently lost in adulthood.