My Favorite Things
I am a patient at many different offices, as I believe in preventive care and having routine physicals, mammograms, eye exams, and an examination at the dermatologist for lumps, bumps and growths - in addition to my dental preventive care. I would like to share with you what makes me want to stay at one doctor over another, besides quality of care.
It is recommended that employees make personal phone calls and any other form of communication on their own time. This may be done before the morning starts, at lunch, or after work. I practice this myself - my days are spent focused on my patients and clients. The doctor is not paying me to take care of my personal business on his or her time. As a patient, one thing I look for is an office that has someone answering the phone at all times of the work day (this may be done by staggering the lunch breaks of your front office staff). I am currently leaving a doctor’s office that I have gone to for years because they hide behind their answering machine and do not pick up the phone. Like many of your patients, I make personal phone calls - such as scheduling appointments - at lunch.
While we’re talking about the telephone, it’s very important to have timely follow-up, whether it’s a phone call, email, or text. If your patients have questions or concerns that need to be addressed, you want to be sure the follow-up communication happens within 24 hours - even if it’s just to let the patient know you are waiting to hear from the insurance or the specialist or whoever it may be. As a patient, I am impressed by follow-up phone calls from the doctor or a staff member to make sure I am doing all right. I once had two medical doctors call me on a Sunday night to confirm that I felt ok to go to work on Monday. As a result of this kind of care, I can’t even tell you how many people I’ve referred to my MD and the hospital that she works for.
If you are looking to attract new patients or make life easier for your existing patients, another big thing to offer are late night and early morning appointments. This flexibility allows patients who are not able to take time off to get appointments they would otherwise not make. Even just offering 7:00 AM or 5:00 PM appointments will make a difference to your patients.
One way to save on overhead is to have one front office person come in for the early appointment and work 7 to 4, while the other front office person may work 9 to 6. The person who works the earlier shift will take the first lunch, and the second person in will take their lunch immediately following. Department stores do this all of the time.
Many people have Fridays off now, so if you are only working four days a week you may want to make one of the days that you work be Friday. This allows patients to come in without having to take additional time off - particularly those who have already had a cut in their pay because of mandatory furlough days. This day may vary depending on what town you work in and the companies that help support your practice.
Saturdays are a consideration, but many times this day ends up being full of last minute cancellations and no-shows because people get wrapped up in soccer games, little league and community events. If you decide to work Saturdays, you may only want to work until noon.
Timeliness is an important consideration as well. When I take time out of my busy schedule to make an appointment during the workday, I appreciate knowing that I will be seen on time and will be done with the appointment by a certain time. This helps me to take the least amount of time off from work as possible.
With all of this said, I challenge you to meet and exceed the wants and needs of your patients in 2014. I also challenge you to make sure your own expectations are met in what you desire from your doctors. Remember - if you expect it, then it’s certain some of your patients or future patients will expect the same from your office and staff.
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