10 Things Patients Want From their Doctors

Unhappy with the service you receive from your doctor? Want to tell them how they can do a better job? Here is a list of things patients all deserve from their doctors, feel free to share it with your physician.

Patients deserve-

1-      A smile. They deserve one from the receptionist and from the doctor. They are the reason we all have a job!

2-      A doctor who is on time. Patients understand that we have emergencies but also know that we do not have emergencies every day. Repeated long waits tell patients that we are uncaring and disorganized. My personal solution to the problem is to schedule same day illness appointments at the end of the morning after I am done with scheduled patients. My scheduled patients then have the time they need.

3-      A meaningful apology. When I am behind more than 30 minutes I give out Starbucks Gift Cards as an apology. This 5 dollar gesture lets them know that their time is important.

4-      Access. When patients are sick and want to be seen, we need to see them. If that means working late or working through lunch we need to do that. If we are not available when they need us, what good are we to them?

5-      Timely responses. We need to return our phone calls every day and notify patients of test results as soon as they come in. Worried patients should not have to worry needlessly. When we communicate quickly we tell them we care.

6-      Listening. I am not a naturally good listener and I am easily distracted by the computer screen. I have trained myself to step away from the computer and to sit down when there is something important to communicate. A minute or two of my undivided attention means a lot.

7-      Eye contact. Computers make this harder, but it is important. No one wants to look at the back of our head when they talk.

8-      Clear explanations. Doctors too often rush through instructions at an unintelligible pace. In my office I type out instructions that the patient can pick up as they leave. I have learned to be specific and clear. I don’t just write “ice your leg three times a day”, I have learned to write “Ice your leg for 20 minutes three times a day.”

9-      Honesty. When I don’t know something, I say so. When something is outside of my area of expertise, I share it. Patients know we are human and appreciate it when we admit it.

10-   Time. Some patients need a lot of it. Instead of rushing and trying to handle 6 things in 10 minutes, I ask patients if it would be okay to bring them back in a week or two for a longer visit. When I say that I want to make sure I have enough time to address all of their concerns appropriately and that it is hard to do a good job when I rush, they always understand.

When I first started in practice I did none of these things well (I do not naturally communicate warmth, I am more of a problem-solver type). As a result my patient satisfaction scores were only average. It took years of effort to incorporate these behaviors into my practice. The result has been happier patients, high patient satisfaction scores, a happier office staff, and a happier me!

- Bart

Thanks for reading. Comments and questions are welcomed, and shares are truly appreciated (just click the button)