Tag Archives: medical manners

Good Medical Manners Equal High Patient Satisfaction

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Medical manners

Declining reimbursements, increased overhead, patient overload and the rush to litigation are but a few of the reasons to “sweat the small stuff” in the medical arena. If you don’t think you need to pay attention to the details when it comes to making your patients happy as well as healthy, think again. If ever there was a time to mind your medical manners, it’s now.

Good medical manners and proper office etiquette can make a significant difference in how physicians and their staff are viewed by their patients. If patients feel valued by their physicians and have positive interactions with staff, they are more likely to become longtime loyal customers. Yes, patients are customers. If your patients don’t return, it may not be because they have recovered. It may be they went somewhere else where they are treated with consideration.

It stands to reason that a happy patient is a healthier patient. If everyone in a physician’s practice takes the time to make patients feel appreciated, those people on whom you rely to build your practice will come back time and again and will refer others. Kindness, courtesy and respect are the right treatment for all patients. No one is allergic.

Let me suggest ten basic rules of etiquette that can have a positive effect on patient satisfaction and outcomes:

  1. Stop, look and listen. This rule does not simply apply to railroad crossings. While doctors can rarely spare as much time with patients as they once did, the people they treat need not wonder if their doctor is wearing a stop watch or has set an alarm on his Apple watch.
  2. Make eye contact with patients. It is sometimes hard to give the patient your direct attention while managing the requirements of the practice technology. Look at your patients, not the computer. Pay attention to their body language as well as their vital signs. If your computer is positioned so that you have to turn away from the patient, reconfigure its’ placement.
  3. When you ask critical questions, pay attention to the answers. Practice good listening skills like nodding at the person, repeating what you heard and paraphrasing what was said. Don’t interrupt or try to finish someone’s sentence. You might miss valuable information
  4. Practice professional meeting and greeting. From your initial encounter with patients, show warmth and friendliness. Honor people by shaking their hand.
  5. Use the patient’s name immediately. Address people by their title and last name until you receive permission to call them by their first name. While some people prefer informality, others may be offended.
  6. Introduce yourself. That may sound silly, but people shouldn’t have to guess if you are the doctor or  another member of the staff.
  7. Let patients know what to expect after you leave the room. What is going to happen next? Who will give follow up instructions?
  8. Pay your attire is important. If you choose to ditch the white coat, your appearance should still be impeccable—neat, clean and pressed.
  9. Know what goes on in your office at all levels. You may not think it is your job to know what your patients experience from the time they walk into your office, but it is. This is no time to make assumptions. Ask for feedback from patients and staff.
  10. Invest time and money in training your employees in the importance of soft skills and customer service. While interpersonal skills may not seem as critical as clinical skills in a physician’s practice, without them there soon may be no patients to treat.

People have choices about where they go for their medical care; you want that to be your office.

Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, keynote speaker, trainer and author. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com to find out how her presentations and workshops can help you and your employees add the polish that builds profits.

 

Etiquette Tips for Physicians and Medical Staff

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The best team in the hospitalDeclining reimbursements, increased overhead, implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the rush to litigation are but a few of the reasons to “sweat the small stuff” in the medical arena. If you don’t think you need to pay attention to the details when it comes to making your patients happy as well as healthy, think again. If ever there was a time to mind your medical manners, it’s now.

Patient satisfaction is becoming the key phrase in healthcare. That is not to say that patient outcomes are no longer important. However, it is now obvious that there is a direct correlation between how patients are treated personally and how they are treated clinically.

Using good manners and following the rules of proper etiquette can make an incredible difference in how physicians and their staff are viewed by their patients. If patients feel valued by their physicians and have positive interactions with the staff, they are most likely to become longtime loyal customers. Yes, patients are customers, too.

Let me suggest twelve simple etiquette tips for physicians and medical staff that can have a positive effect on patient relations and outcomes:

  1. Stop, look and listen. This rule does not simply apply to the train rumbling down the tracks. It has great value in a physician’s office. While doctors can rarely spare as much time with patients as they once did, the people they treat need not wonder if their doctor is wearing a stop watch or has set an alarm on his smart phone or on his new Apple watch. Slow down. In some instances, stop.
  2. Make eye contact with patients while talking with them. Focus on the patient and not on the computer screen. If your computer is placed in such a way that you must turn away from the patient, get a laptop or reconfigure the computer’s placement.
  3. When you ask the critical questions, pay attention to the answers. Use good listening skills such as nodding at the person, repeating what you have heard and paraphrasing what was said. Avoid the urge to interrupt or finish the patient’s sentence. You could miss valuable information
  4. Practice professional meeting and greeting. Make your introduction warm and friendly.
  5. Smile when you make eye contact . This helps put people at ease and makes them feel welcome and valued.
  6. Use the patient’s name as soon as you can while adhering to patient privacy laws. Address people by their title and last name until you receive permission to call them by their first name.
  7. Introduce yourself even if you are wearing a name badge, which you should be.   Don’t forget to give your title or position so patients will know if they are speaking to a nurse, a technician or a housekeeper.
  8. Let the patient know what is going to happen next. For example, “I am going to get your vital signs now. Then you may have a seat in the waiting area until the doctor is ready to see you.” That is something that is done in my own doctor’s office. The usual custom is to tell the patient that you will be leaving the room and that the doctor will be in shortly.
  9. Someone should keep track of how long the patient has been waiting in the exam room and check back from time to time. Even a prolonged wait will pass more quickly if the patient sees other humans from time to time.
  10. Dress like a professional. Most physicians offer a professional appearance if for no other reason than that they wear a white coat to hide their sins. The office staff is another issue. Some employees wear whatever they choose. Others are required to dress in uniforms. The result is that there is a wide variety in office attire—some of it neat and professional and the other not so much
  11. Dress policies should be put in place and enforced by the officer manager. Lack of attention to office attire can give patients a poor impression and even lead to doubt as to the level of care they will receive.
  12. Keep office differences under wraps. Not everyone in the office is best friends with or even likes their co-workers. This should not be the patient’s problem. If employees cannot resolve the trouble between themselves, they need to take up their problem with the office manager, not gossip to others in the office and definitely not make their issues public.

Invest time and money in training physicians and medical staff in the importance of soft skills. While interpersonal skills may not seem as critical as clinical skills in a physician’s practice, without them there soon may be no patients to treat. People have choices in where they go for their medical care; you want that to be your office.

Photo from Savannah magazine

Photo from Savannah magazine

Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions.  Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at lydia@lydiaramsey.com or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website, lydiaramsey.com.

Is the Handshake Dead ?

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HandshakeThe handshake has long been a social tradition. Across the globe people shake hands. They do it in greeting, congratulating, thanking, appreciating, confirming and departing. Now in an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association there is talk of banning the handshake in the healthcare environment.

The reason that JAMA is suggesting a ban on shaking hands is to stop, or at least slow, the spread of many infectious diseases. Physicians traditionally shake a patient’s hand when greeting the patient and when leaving the patient. It is way of putting the patient at ease and establishing rapport.

Now that it has been discovered that the deadly MERS virus was spread from one individual to another through a handshake, there is even more attention being given to this longstanding social custom. JAMA is suggesting that all healthcare environments be declared “handshake-free zones” and that signs be put up notifying patients and their families. The wording goes something like this: “Handshake-free zone: to protect your health and the health of those around you, please refrain from shaking hands while on these premises.”

There are already individuals who refuse to shake hands, even in the business world, for fear of spreading germs. However, in doing so, these germ-a-phobes run the risk of insulting other people and losing business.

The debate has just begun. I think we are going to hear a lot more on this subject. For now I agree with Dr. Dave Hnida, CBSDenver.com blogger, that common sense and personal hygiene are what we need to consider. Washing your hands frequently and using hand-sanitizer are already proven ways to preserve an important social custom and prevent the spread of disease.

What is your opinion on the issue of the handshake? Is it to shake or not to shake?

Keep on shaking and washing your hands!

professional speaker

Photo from Savannah magazine

Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions.  Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at lydia@lydiaramsey.com or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website, lydiaramsey.com.