Patient Management

During this course, I will be sharing patient management strategies and opportunities and we’ll be looking at increasing the patient's perception of value. But let me be clear here about patient management versus patient care. This discussion is about patient management. You are the doctor and do not need my help with patient care. I am simply not qualified. I am going to share with you some patient management strategies to help manage the patient's perception of the value of your services and elevate that great level of patient care that you provide. Think of these as teaching and education opportunities. At Williams Group, we reference some of these strategies and best practice ideas as internal marketing. So internal marketing, teaching, and education of patients inside of your four walls, inside your practice. “Every contact we have with a customer influences whether or not they'll come back. We have to be great every time or we'll lose them.” Kevin Stirtz is the author of More Loyal Customers. Even small, insignificant, well to us anyway, insignificant events are enough to make a patient walk away from your practice. Think about that. Patients form some perception about your practice early on. Oftentimes immediately. Manage that perception. Make decisions from the patient's perception. What do patients see when they walk in your office? What do they hear? What do they smell? So, I'm talking about things like music. The music you play in your office. Your appearance and dress, of you and your team. So, when you're making these decisions, make them from the patient's perspective. And then think about ways to wow your new patients. I know you are spending a lot of time thinking about your equipment and technology choices and you should. You're definitely going to wow those patients with your new technology and your new equipment and instrumentation, but think about other things, like including perhaps a beverage center in your office, in your reception area. A charging station, such a simple thing. Offering your Wi-Fi password. How will your guests be greeted, your patients be greeted, excuse me. I guess we're going to think of them like guests, right? So, what's your wow? Start to think about this if you haven’t. The overall message should be, welcome! You are our guest. We want to serve you.

In the next several slides, I will be discussing some specific strategies, opportunities, and best practice ideas. Some of these concepts and ideas can be implemented from day one, patient one. And others won't be utilized until you have more staff. If we are managing the patient's perception of value, then we need to educate. I just talked about that word, education, teach. We need to educate the patient during their exam experience and this begins right away with pre-testing, which is an internal term, but pre-testing, okay? And so I know initially doctor, you are going to be doing or you may be doing the majority of your pre-testing, so this is kind of one of those forward-thinking ideas and opportunities here. When you have staff that will be designated to do pre-testing, we see a lot of missed opportunity here. So remember, I just said you're going to get this great technology, you’re going to wow patients that way, but those can't be just sit here, put your chin in the chin rest, right? Scoot up a little bit, you're going to look at this light, right? That doesn't provide any value. So as you bring in staff, you'll need to do some training on that instrumentation. K? So, it's not teaching your staff certainly to do any diagnosis, but it’s just teaching them to add value to this part of the exam, because it is part of that exam sequence. So the first thing is and we have some nice scripts that I will share with you, available for download. But just know that this is available to you when you need it. So, the first thing is that greeting. “Hello. I am Sheila, the doctor’s medical technician.” So start with an introduction that gives value. “And i will begin your exam sequence today with some tests the doctor has ordered for you” So, we're just building value into those initial diagnostic tests, right? K. So, very important here that we increase the patient's perception of the value of your exam experience right away. 

So, let's talk about the exam room and some techniques and strategies. So, this is you doctor, your shining moment here. And we know that patients form some perception about your practice early on. We said that, right? And they're going to start to form some perception about you and your exam room early on as well. So guys, give a nice big hearty welcome. And so welcome, greet the patient with a warm smile. The message is you are happy they're here, right? And you are! You're so happy. They have lots of choices and they chose you. So, welcome, greet the patient with a warm smile and then just begin your shining moment. Explain what you are doing, what you will be doing, building education into the exam right from the beginning. For example, "Mrs. Williams, your examination today will have two parts. The first, I will be using technology to look at your overall eye health, making sure everything looks healthy for future vision. Gosh, I’m going to be looking all the way back to your optic nerve. Secondly, I will be checking your vision and prescription or to see if any prescription is needed to make sure that you have optimal vision." Use your words doctor. Just let them know that you will provide information and they are welcome to ask questions. So, welcome two parts; so I'm gonna tell you what I'm doing and you're welcome to ask any questions. 

So, we call this four-part diagnostics feedback, just makes it really easy for you to roll these techniques out. Education, diagnostic feedback, broken down into four parts. Let’s go through those. So, the first is “here's what I'm doing.” Secondly, “here’s what I'm looking for.” Next, “here's what I'm seeing while I'm seeing it.” Some education, it’s not going to take any longer. You're just filling the silence. And then lastly, “when I need to see you again or when you need to see me again.” Right, so whenever you, whatever you're seeing that recommendation is and we'll need to run this test again or I'll need to look at that again in a year, so just when you need to see me again. So, best practices use these techniques while you're doing the exam again, filling the silence time isn’t going to take any longer. However, with really protecting that closed space from you to your patient. So, right now being the socially distant time frame that we're in here, it is best to wait until you have completed the exam or at intervals pushing back from the patient. So, just a little something we're needing to change up here, but when this is all through, we want you to go back to the education the entire way through the exam experience. 

And then doctor, when you’re all finished, you're going to make recommendations to the patient, because that's what they came to see you for; recommendations. And you're going to use your own words, but as you conclude your exam and think about this as like really making direct recommendations. Not just well there are just a lot of options or what a person could do. No, I recommend or I prescribe, whatever word you want to use, but make those direct recommendations to the patient for first of all, I guess any medical treatment plan and then secondly, any visual treatment plan that’s needed. So, kind of that wrap up, talking about those two parts of the eye exam, right? So, vision and health. So, next year when they're thinking about coming back to see you, it's not just because you know, maybe their vision things still look pretty clear in the distance, but you talk to them about their eye health as well. 

And then, remember that internal marketing that I talked about, patient education. In addition to creating those wow experiences that lead to referrals, just come right out and ask for them directly. Something like “I wish my practice was full of patients just like you! Feel free to send over friends and family and we'll take great care of them. Any friend of yours would be a great addition to the practice.” Again, those are my words. You put them into your own words, but just ask for those referrals. It’s going to help grow your practice so much quicker. Here's an example of a card that you can hand to the patient during this presentation and we have a sample for you to download, just saying hey we appreciate your referrals. On the backside, you can leave us a review. Something like that. So anyway, just an example of that and also if you have those cards, and you can use a business card as well, but I think it's just a way to kind of trigger a reminder, hey I need to ask for referrals for every patient, hey I want to grow this practice quicker. So, this is a strategy that I'm going to incorporate right away.

And then a baton pass at the end of your exam, k? So, all this implies is that you will have a well-orchestrated way to transfer information to the next expert in your office that will be assisting the patient. That's all the baton pass is, a transfer of information. We just want to make sure that you have a really good, like I said, well-orchestrated system in place. Because you know what, the patient wants to know that they know, right, so the next person knows what you know, right? You had that discussion, so now I, the patient, want to know that that next person knows what we talked about, they want to know that that next person knows how doctor, how you said, we can solve their problems. So, you're transferring authority and you're transferring information. Ideally, this transfer happens in the exam room, but initially, you may be walking the patient out to the staff that will be assisting them. So, that's kind of the now and future, k? So, when you're at the point where the baton pass can happen in the exam room, you may find it valuable to incorporate some type of a paging system for an efficient and professional way to notify staff that you are approaching the wrap-up with a patient and we can provide you with paging system recommendations when the time comes. But you’ll page the staff to come back to you, so that all happens back in the exam room. So, that kind of triplicate participation; doctor, patient, staff happens back in the exam room where you’re still medically focused, right, private and also doctor, it keeps you back in the clinic area. Again, as you get busier and you walk out to the front area, whatever that is, your optical area, a patient might catch you. “Hey doc, I'm just picking up my new glasses, you know, what do you think? I'm just not quite sure about this” or “hey, after my exam, I was telling my kids about this and they had a question.” So, anyway you're just going to get caught in what might mean just a simple question, could end up putting you behind schedule, you know five or ten minutes and throw your day off. So, that's why we like, those are the reasons why we like that baton pass to happen back in the exam room. So, kind of now and future. 

So, in summary, that exam room experience, just so important. You know, I know you’ve heard these comments “this was the best exam I've ever had” or “that was the most thorough eye exam I've ever had” or maybe even “no doctor has ever explained my medications or my disease or my visual problems like you did.” I know you hear these comments all the time. Keep it up. Patients are so impressed by your care and expertise. This is a really big way to differentiate your practice from others in your area or from their last exam experience. And then lastly, thank the patient for their business. Like, really thank them. “I know you have lots of choices in eye care and I want to thank you for choosing us.” We have to remember that our patients are our customers too and that's what keeps us in business. Treat every patient like they are the only reason you showed up to work today and repeat, again and again, all day, every day.