“A business is successful to the extent that it provides a product or service that contributes to happiness in all of its forms.” ~Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Originally Written and Recorded By The DPC Journal/Concierge Medicine Today, Editor-in-Chief/The DocPreneur Leadership Podcast
ATLANTA, GA | Updated, Spring 2022
The new patient referral.
It’s elusive. It’s even at times mysterious.
You don’t always know when it will arrive or even where it comes from.
You are glad it is there but at the end of the visit you still wonder ‘why’ that one patient chose you.
It is indeed an elusive and mysterious achievement which all Physicians aim for. The New Patient Referral.
It is truly a beautiful thing when it happens.
Yet, we don’t always know how it happened or what exactly made them choose you.
Was it a friendly name drop and Google search? We’re you the only one that picked up the phone on the long list of local Physicians? Or, was it something more. If it was, what was the story that was told.
And it’s here in the story that I want us to pause for a moment.
Because there is a story being told about you outside the four walls of your local practice.
But what is it?
What is being said behind your back or about you?
It is remarkable? Is it something you’d be proud of?
We took to our sister publication (e.g. Concierge Medicine Today) Physician readers and prospective patient who visit and use our resources and asked them Why Do Patients Love or Leave A Concierge Medicine Physician?
We discovered something very interesting.
It rarely was the price tag that discouraged them from signing up.
So we decided to probe a little deeper. We asked the question, What Is Your Longest Patient Visit In Concierge Medical Care?
We uncovered through this process that less than six percent of Concierge Medicine Doctors do something different than 94% of their peers?
But what is it?
When CMTs Concierge Physician readers polled answered this question, What Is Your Longest Patient Visit In Concierge Medical Care?
- 10% – 1 Hour
- 40% – 2 Hours
- 25% – 4 Hours
- 20% – 3 Hours
- 5% – 8+ Hours
That’s pretty remarkable, right?
After all, when you examine as we have why people leave their Doctor they will tell you typically three reasons. First, ‘I felt like a number.’ Second, ‘He/she spent less than 15-minutes with me on every visit.’ Finally, ‘The staff was rude.’
So where do we go from here? It’s impossible to spend 8+ hours with every patient.
So we need to go back to the premise of the story. There is a story being told about you outside the four walls of your local practice. So what is it?
Do you have any control over what is being said about you?
But that can change. You can control the story that is shared about you. I’m living breathing proof myself that there are indeed Doctors, like you, that are remarkable and truly worth remarking to others about.
And therein lies the answer. Create a remarkable experience (amongst your Patients) that’s actually worth remarking to others about.
How is this accomplished?
I’m so glad you asked.
At CMT over the past three years, we asked Physicians, ‘How many handwritten notes or handwritten thank you notes do you write to Patients per month?’
- 32% – “I write between 1-2 per month.”
- 14% – “Between 3-6 per month.”
- 21% – “Between 7-10 per month.”
- 11% – “Between 11-20 per month.”
- 6% – 150+ Thank You Notes/Handwritten Notes Per Month (or 4-5 notes, personally addressed per day).
- 16% – None. Zero.
This is undoubtedly one of the most important strategies that you can and should deploy in your medical practice that literally only costs you a few minutes a day and less than $0.60 to drop in the mail.
As one Physician we interviewed recently on our DocPreneur Leadership Podcast, “It cements the patient-physician relationship and creates positive word of mouth about you for free!”
I love that!
So whether a team member failed to ask the follow up question about how that new walk-in found your office or an inquisitive question about why your current patient told their friend about you, you can now control the narrative and story about what’s being said about you in your local community.
And what Doctor doesn’t want to create a sales force for free?!
If you meet ’em, I’d like to know. 🙂
Take control of the story that is being shared about you.
Try writing one handwritten note or thank you note to patient per week. I’ll even give you two weeks off for vacation. That means that in one year you will have changed the story or created a story worth people talking about in your local community.
Every team member from this point on should be equipped and at-the-ready when these new patients arrive for the first time. You should then equip your staff to ask ‘How did you hear about us?’ and then, sit back and listen to the real story about their personal Why behind the actual visit.
I think you’ll be surprised at the results, as your peers in Concierge Medicine have been now who have implemented this strategy in their local communities.
Jeff Henderson, author and speaker in his book Know What You’re FOR writes “Businesses have to understand the greatest source of their credibility isn’t the brand – it’s the customers of the brand. When you get small and personal, your customers will demand that you grow bigger.”
If you take anything away from this article today it should be this, “When you get small and personal, your customers will demand that you grow bigger.”
Often we’re all afraid to ask people the awkward, personal questions about ‘how’d you hear about us?’ because we’re afraid of the story they might tell or that it might be embarrassing or self-advertorial. We also don’t want to scare them off by seeming prideful. But if we don’t ask … what is at stake is the growth and livelihood of your practice/business and your employees salaries.
So we need to ask. We can’t be afraid.
We can ‘Scale Kindness’ in healthcare, but it starts with you!
You’ll find Patients will often open up and be happy to share who and why they found you.
It’s in these small, intimate conversations that the wet cement of your relationship will dry and last a lifetime, hopefully!
So, start with one handwritten note per week. Nurture the positive communication and relationship you have with existing patients. They are after all, a sales force that you can use in your local community and they’re waiting, literally waiting to hear from you and believe it or not, they want to brag about you!
“My vision is to cultivate a personal Patient – doctor relationship amidst a bustling urban community where impersonal professional relationships are the norm,” said Dr. Edward Espinosa of Buckhead Concierge Internal Medicine in Atlanta, GA. “Our practice strives to deliver quality medical care with an emphasis on evidence based medicine, open communication, easy accessibility, and a focus on customer service. These benefits can lead to an overall improvement in how healthcare is delivered and may ultimately improve outcomes.”
If you are still afraid of putting yourself out there, we’ve put together an entire course FOR DOCTORS that will help you understand how and what to write to a Patient. You can find that Master Class, “The Art of Writing a Thank You Note to A Patient” here.
In the meantime, stop putting so much pressure on yourself. You don’t need to visit with every patient for 8-hours. You just need to start with one handwritten note per week.
Now, go, get started!