This is not an essay about long wait times. (In case you thought that’s where I’m going with this…)
Yes, long waits are a signal to your patients that you don’t value their time. And since time is our most precious asset, long waits are a particularly egregious offense.
But I’m not telling you anything you don’t know. Which is why this short essay isn’t about that.
This is about unnecessary repetition.
People don’t like to repeat themselves. It’s a waste of their time. It’s an indicator you aren’t listening. Repeating makes your patients feel invisible.
I recently had a 20-minute phone call with AT&T to set up a new internet connection at my house. I’ve had solid interactions with AT&T support over the years. This was not one of those.
After typing my personal info into the prompts of the auto-attendant (phone number, zip code, etc) , I was transferred to a human… who asked me all the same things. Then this person sent me over to a sales person. And guess what? I had the pleasure of repeating myself for a third time.
You’ve probably had an experience like this. You know how frustrating it can be. It’s a pain for your patients as well.
Personal info, medical history, what they do for a living, their hobbies, reason for the appointment, and more. It’s not uncommon that a patient repeats this info several times between the phone call, initial paperwork, in-office exam and even among multiple members of your team during the appointment.
It’s unnecessary, a waste of time, and completely avoidable.
What’s the easiest way to gather info once (and only once)?
This may sound dead simple… because it is. Here’s your 3-step solution to this common frustration.
- Take notes. Every team member should be taking notes through the process. From the phone to the consult, we should be building a dossier about the patient that has all this info in it.
- Add notes to file. This is pretty straightforward, but if you take notes that don’t end up in the patient’s file, then the notes are useless.
- Use notes. Again, pretty obvious, but you might be surprised how often this doesn’t happen in your practice. Once you’ve taken notes and added them to the patient’s file, everyone needs to use the notes in patient interactions.
Once you go through this process, you no longer have to ask “So, what do you do for fun?” You can be the one to start the conversation – “So you’re into scuba diving? That’s awesome! What’s the most beautiful place you’ve been?”
That’s all there is to it. Do this, and you’ll find yourself having more engaging conversations with your patients. You also signal to them that you care and you are listening.
People need to know you hear them, then you are able to truly connect with your patients.