Top Ten Things that Turn Patients Off

1. Ignoring Them

The office should be anticipating each arrival.  When people walk in the door they should be greeted by name.

If the patient has to wait beyond what is considered reasonable, offer to reschedule them.  Offer to call for their ride, if appropriate.

Ask the patient who has had to wait if they would like a beverage or if they wish to use the telephone or the restroom.

2. Acknowledging Them as if They Have No Business Being There: Do you have an appointment? 

The staff should assume the patient belongs there, some people will stop by to make their appointment in person so the staff should greet people with a friendly “Hello, how may I help you?” or “Hello Mrs. Smith. Thank you for coming to see us”.

Remember the patient is the guest in the practice.

3. Making Them Feel “Helpless”

Patients are already anxious about the fact they need medical care. This is stressful and they often don’t understand what is happening.

Make patients familiar with the office if it’s a first appointment.  Give them a tour – show where restroom facilities are, etc. This helps make them feel more I control of their situation.

Also, explain the examination and results as well as eye anatomy to ease that helpless feeling.

4. The Clipboard and Chain Greeting

What is the profile of the average patient seen in the practice? (Age, Sex, mobility, dexterity, hearing, memory, bladder control, vision, etc.)

This profile can make stuff more aware of patients needs.

Older patients often have problems with forms – have someone sit down and fill it out with the patient.

Another option is to mail it out ahead of time with a map to office.

5. Calling Patients Out of Turn

Get each person into the process in order of their appointment time.  IF the doctor must see someone out of turn, it won’t be as critical if the other patients are already in progress.  However, if it is necessary to see someone out of turn and this is apparent to others waiting, be sure to go to them and explain that a special test is necessary which will require that patient to be seen earlier.

6. The Question: “Have you been into the office before?”

This is insulting and the staff should know the answer to that question.

Again, anticipate appointments and if you’re caught off guard, it is better to say, “I know you’ve been in the office before, but I can’t put the name with the face.”

7. Laughing Too Much or Too Loud

Avoid at all costs – make the patient feel they are being laughed at.

Save it for the break room.

8. Being too busy to find out how long it will be before the patient will be seen or how much it will cost, etc.

This usually becomes an issue after the patient is ignored or on the way out after the examination.

Response should be to ask the patient to take a seat and you’ll find out right away and get back to them as soon as possible.  Or, you’ll find out and let them know while they are having their examination. Or, tell them you’ll ask the doctor when they will be seen and get right back with an answer.

9. “The Doctor is With a Patient Now”

This statement has been used as an excuse many times and the patient has heard it over and over. It also is in conflict with the guidance the patient has received from the doctor to call if there is a question.

It is better to say that the doctor is currently in the middle of an examination and ask if you can pass their questions to the doctor.

10. Please Pass the Patient

Often the patient is seen by a number of technicians as well as the doctor.  When they are passed to a number of different people, they don’t know their name or what is going on.

One way to avoid this is to have a patient coordinator walk the patient to each new area.

Another is to explain the process and introduce the different people on the tour.

Have each person introduce the patient to the technician and the next phase to the exam at the traditional point in the process.