What Happened to My Medical Practice? Five Reasons You Could be Losing Patients

Be that as it may, it is the responsibility of each medical professional to provide their patients with quality care and an overall good experience. By carrying out such responsibilities, doctors ultimately cultivate relationships with their patients that cause them to get more involved in the betterment of their health. The problem is, however, that many patients don’t feel they’re getting what they deserve from their doctors and other healthcare professionals.

Retaining Your Patients

As busy as medical professionals are, they must still somehow find the balance between quality and quantity. Not being able to fully devote yourself to the well-being of your patients can significantly reduce the amount of business you receive. Equally as important to point out is that the patients ultimately suffer as well. Below are some common complaints patients have about their doctors that ultimately causes them to switch offices:

1.  Dismissive Attitudes – One of the first complaints that patients have when it comes to their doctors is their dismissive demeanor. Each patient is different. While some won’t have any questions regarding their health, others will have a lot to say. When a doctor brushes off patient questions, comments, lists of symptoms, or any of the above, it sends the message that they’re simply another dollar sign and nothing more.

2.  Extremely Long Wait Times – When patients visit the doctor’s office by appointment or as a walk in, they want to be treated as if their time and health are of importance to you and your staff. While there are things that happen throughout the course of a day that could cause your schedule to get backed up, having some form of courtesy and professionalism towards your patients is still a must. When a patient is left sitting in the waiting room for an hour and then in the examination room for another thirty minutes, they don’t feel valued.

3.  Taking Offense to Questions – The Huffington Post provides an interesting take on why patients ignore doctor advice. At the top of the list is that most patients think they know more than the doctor. In this very informational age, you have to expect that patients will have already diagnosed themselves with several terminal illnesses and infectious diseases by the time they reach your office. If you provide a diagnosis or give instructions on how to treat an issue, you have to be prepared for questions. “Well, I read online that I shouldn’t take that type of medication. Are you sure it’s safe?”… “I know you said I don’t have this particular issue, but when I used the online symptom checker, it said this. Why is that?” Taking offense, brushing them off, or acting rudely only cuts the lines of communication between the doctor and the patient.

4.  Canceling and Rescheduling Appointments – There are times when doctors overbook, fall ill, or have other obligations that cause them to have to switch around some patient appointments. However, when it happens too often, patients really do become frustrated by this. They’ve already requested time off from work and made necessary arrangements and they truly expect to be seen. Solution Reach, a company that provides innovative tools to improve patient retention has stated that using appointment setting and reminder software can improve overall patient experience.

5.  Poor Decisions That Could Have Been Prevented – last, but certainly not least, is giving out advice that harms the patient, but could have been avoided. When doctors ignore the symptoms or descriptions patients are providing them, or omit taking certain measures, they could end up giving out the wrong advice. For example, a patient complains about their child’s coughing and wheezing. The doctor dismisses it as nothing more than the common cold. Only weeks later the child is in the emergency room with pneumonia. Patients should not have to force doctors to make decisions. While there are instances in which a patient is over thinking, in many cases it can’t hurt to do all you can to put their suspicions to rest.

Do you see yourself or your staff in any of the above mentioned complaints? If so, it is necessary that you do something about it to improve your patient retention rates. It is also important as a means for giving your patients the best care possible. Simple changes in your practices can easily improve the quality of care you and your staff provide, while making a difference in the lives of your patients.