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INSIDE YOUR PRACTICE: Dealing With The Unhappy Concierge Medicine Patients

Trending: Comment Cards Inside Your Practice Reassure Your Concierge Medicine Patients

By Michael Tetreault, Editor-In-Chief

MAY 31, 2013 – Patients don’t speak with their mouths, they speak with their feet and quietly on the Internet, sometimes know as ‘the cowards canvas.’ Typically, when your patients are unhappy, they simply don’t come back. Why? It could be a bad attitude, unprofessional service, a price increase or a change in the physical location of your practice. Most concierge medicine doctors may never know. But one thing is for certain, allowing your patients an avenue to express their concerns indirectly through the use of comment cards can help you keep your patients year after year. And with the national concierge medicine patient retention rate slipping from 94 percent in 2011 to 92 percent in 2012, it’s more important than even to maintain your current patient-base.

According to a recent poll of concierge doctors nationally by ConciergeMedicineToday.com, they found that it takes between three and four months to acquire a one new patient to a concierge medicine clinic. Additional digging by the same source also revealed that it can cost three times more to acquire a new patient than to keep an existing patient happy. Therefore, a well-executed Patient Comment Card system and drop box by your door, in your lobby or in any place where patients have to wait for you — gives you the vital information you need at the end of the day and shows that you respect the time, opinion and comments of your current patients. Not to mention, it also offers a simple, hassle-free way to give feedback to your staff — good or bad.

Here’s a couple of quick tips:

  1. Encourage your patients to fill-in the card completely by giving incentives such as a complimentary $5 gift card on their next visit. Birthday and anniversary ideas are also great incentives too.“One of the best patient incentives I received was a hand-written congratulations card from my doctor when I graduated from business school with my MBA,” said one University of Georgia graduate school and patient of a concierge doctor. “I may have mentioned it in passing but I never in a million years thought my doctor cared.”
  2. You don’t need to spend big bucks on mass mailer or a local newspaper ad to attract new patients. While those items should be part of your marketing plan, comment cards focus on keeping the patients who already know, like and trust you and hopefully, value the services you provide to them.
  3. You’ll increase frequency of existing patients simply by asking these questions and offering a “thank-you” gift to be redeemed at a future date. Work with your marketing team and staff to create fun redemptions. If you think you need legal advice, run the incentive or gift past your attorney for about 5 minutes.
  4. Be creative. Design a comment card (with a drop box too – don’t rely on people to hand it to your staff) that people will want to complete. Include a section for rating the doctor on today’s visit, staff service, wait time, if any, office setting, and additional comments.
  5. The last section should ask for more basic information. Here’s where you can start building a valuable database, e.g. birthday’s, anniversary, children’s birthdays, etc.

Last and equally as important. If something goes wrong in your concierge medicine or direct primary care practice, you want to have the chance to make it right—right away, don’t you? Don’t let that patient walk away from your practice for good.

Concierge Medicine Today has provided a sample Patient Comment Card (CMT_Patient_Comment_2013 –) for your adaptation and inclusion into your practice. Email us at editor@conciergemedicinetoday.com and we’ll send you the PDF Patient Comment Card for FREE right away.

SAMPLE PATIENT COMMENT CARD QUESTIONS:

INSTRUCTIONS: Please rate the following areas on a scale of:

1 – Unacceptable
2 – Needs improvement
3 – Fair
4 – Good
5 – Excellent

Your Doctor:
__ – Friendly
__ – Knowledgeable
__ – Prompt

Staff:
__ – Friendly
__ – Knowledgeable
__ – Prompt

What can we do to improve your next visit?

We’d like to send you a birthday or anniversary card throughout the year. Sometimes, we might include a special gift! J

Your Birthday (Year is not necessary J)

Your Anniversary (if applicable)

Would you like to be on our e-mail list?

________________________@______________________._________

Please add any other comments that will help us improve your experience here at our practice. Thank you.

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