People, as a collective, are creatures of habit. They want to feel secure and familiar with the people they entrust with the important things in life, like their own or their family’s health and well-being. Changing to a new physician is a very difficult thing for many people and understandably so. Starting over when you have reached a level of trust and familiarity with a medical professional can be extremely hard to swallow. And while you may not be exactly like their old doctor, here are some tips that will help you to begin to gain the same level of trust from new patients.
Keep space open.
There is nothing more frustrating to a new patient than calling to make an appointment and being put off for months. If you are accepting new patients, be sure to set aside some appointment slots each week that are just for those who are new to your practice. People are far more likely to stay with a practice that makes time for them right from the get-go.
Make them feel valued right from the front office.
Train your office staff and management on how you would like them to handle all new patients coming into the office. Handing them a clipboard and sending them back to fill out forms simply won’t do. You want them to treat all new patients as a guest, ensuring they’re comfortable and that they aren’t left lingering in the waiting room for long.
Get to know them first.
While this is not always possible if someone is experiencing acute or ongoing health issues, it’s a great practice to have an intake appointment simply where you have time to sit down, learn a bit more about your new patient and their medical history, and discuss their questions and concerns about your practice and their health. Find out likes and dislikes, treatments they’re interested in or would prefer to avoid, and get a better feel for who they are, not just as patients, but also as people.
Do your homework.
If you have access to a new patient’s records from their previous physicians, take some time to review them and make a list of questions that you may have about previous health issues and current conditions. The comfort of not having to rehash their history with every appointment is something that people enjoy. Also, feeling like you’ve taken the time to get to know a little more about them and their health history will set things off on the right foot.
Be sure that communication is a two-way street.
You should be good at communicating with your new patients, but be a good listener for them, as well. Repeat key points in their responses, and give them ample opportunity to ask questions or explain their thoughts or experiences to you. People want to know that they are heard and understood by their physician in order to feel more comfortable.
By ensuring that you are treating your new patients with kid gloves, you’ll experience a higher rate of retention. You can also establish the trust and rapport with people that let them know that you care and will do your absolute best for them.