Ok, so yes…Medical Site Solutions is in the business of helping doctors grow their business by creating beautiful medical websites, providing awesome patient education tools for physicians, and implementing the latest SEO and reputation management strategies (just to name a few). But even if you ARE the best doctor within your specialty and a total genius…well…it simply doesn’t guarantee you won’t lose patients. Especially this day in age, with social media and online reviewing sites (like Yelp, Health Grades, Rate MDs, and Vitals) becoming more prevalent than ever! So my next questions to you as a physician are: Have you lost a patient recently? And if so, why? Was it avoidable? What could you have done differently?
A big part of our business here at Medical Site Solutions revolves around practice and physician reputation management. We read literally thousands of online physician reviews every year and sometimes we sign on clients that have a less than stellar online reputation. Having read a bazillion doctor reviews over the years within a wide range of specialties, we were able to create a succinct list of the most common patient issues that we see again and again from online reviews. The list below outlines the top reasons doctors lose patients (in no particular order):
1. Long Wait Times with No Apology
Sometimes, it’s inevitable that the office is running behind on appointments or the schedule has been too overloaded on a particular day. However (and we can’t stress this enough), it is SO important that this isn’t a habitual occurrence within your practice. Because let’s face it, NO patient wants to wait long. Patients may tolerate a wait if they are happy with the level of health care you provide. And first time patients may accept a wait if the doctor has a great reputation. However, after a patient has waited a long time and the doctor greets the patient without acknowledging or apologizing for a long wait, you can be sure the patient will be ticked off. Often ticked off enough to write all about in when they review your practice!
2. Conversely, Rushing a Patient Once They Finally See The Doctor
The other issue we see again and again is rushed patient appointments. Think about it: Your patient has been waiting over an hour to see you. He finallyyy gets into the examination room to see you, but you’re behind and rush thru the appointment to try and get caught up. REALLYYY bad idea! Having a rushed appointment makes your patient feel uncared for and may ultimately lead to losing said patient. Combine offering no apology for the long wait AND rushing the appointment and TA-DA!! You have the perfect ingredients for a nightmare of an online review!
3. Disrespectful Staff
This is a biggie and one of THE MOST COMMON complaints we see over and over!! Seriously!! It doesn’t matter if you are the best freakin’ doctor or surgeon or medical genius on the planet if you have a rude or lazy staff running your practice! That’s just the BOTTOM LINE. The overall patient experience is SO important and your staff is a HUGE part of that experience. If your staff is rude and disrespectful to patients, they will most likely not come back. This includes everyone who has ANY patient contact among your office staff (i.e. nurses, receptionist, technicians, billing staff, PAs, etc.). If it comes to your attention that patients are experiencing rudeness, it may be time to think about re-staffing…after all, it’s your reputation on the line!
4. Doctors Who Allow Their Ego to Get in the Way of Patient Care
If you have a patient who seeks additional medical advice from another provider, don’t take it personally. Better yet, be a team player and work in conjunction with any other physicians to help solve your patient’s issue. Always remember, the first priority should be your patient’s care. We often see reviews by patients who feel that their doctor got ticked off or had a defensive attitude towards them after finding out the patient was seeing other doctors. A patient in pain just wants to find out as much as they can and sometimes that means talking to more than one doctor. Try to remember that this often says nothing about your skill as a physician, but says more about your patient and the journey that they must take.
5. Doctors Who Have a Poor Bedside Manner
Everyone knows that doctors, like all humans, come in many different personality shapes and sizes. Some doctors are very blunt and straightforward, others more clinical and subdued. Some doctors are outgoing and sociable, while others are more the nerdy, scientific types. Whoever you are as a physician, it is important to consider cultivating a good bedside manner. TONS and tons of reviews mention the doctor’s bedside manner and mention it as a deciding factor in whether or not they choose to continue seeing said physician. Trust us, patients DEFINITLY notice doctors who walk in the room and spend a rushed 5 minutes with them, spend most of the time looking at a computer screen, make little to no eye contact, talk condescendingly or rudely to the patient, interrupt the patient, etc. The most important thing is to make each patient feel cared for and to truly make them feel as if you are hearing them.
6. Outdated or Dreary Office Space
The bottom line is this: virtually no one likes going to the doctor’s office in the first place. So if your office space and waiting rooms are outdated, bare, unwelcoming, or cold feeling, you are sure to make your prospective patients uncomfortable and unwilling to visit twice. We’ve mentioned it before, but we’ll say it again: it all comes down to the OVERALL patient experience, and like it or not, your office is part of that experience. So create a welcoming, more enjoyable experience by sprucing up the patient spaces with art, having comfortable and attractive seating, having a flat screen on in the waiting room, bringing appealing light into the space, or having music play softly. This helps make your patients feel welcomed and cared for the moment they step into your office.