Showing honest, sincere appreciation is more than just a sales tactic. In fact, it should be a fundamental component of every meaningful work relationship and can make a difference in retaining current patients (and bringing in new ones).
Merikay Tillman, founder and chief executive officer of COACH Mkay Companies, a health care consulting firm, and member of the National Society of Certified Healthcare Business Consultants, urges physicians to instill more “care” in health care by displaying gratitude for the patients who make up their practice.
Say Thank You
The easiest way to show appreciation to your patients is with a simple verbal “thank you.” Make it count by including the patient’s name and using eye contact. “Take time to really connect on that emotional level with your patents,” recommends Tillman. “Try something simple like, ‘Sarah, I just want to take a moment to thank you for choosing our practice. Your trust in our care means a great deal, and we’re appreciative.’”
Indeed, everyone in your practice should make a point to thank patients. “When a patient calls a practice, the first thing staff members should say is, ‘Thank you for choosing our practice,’ not, ‘Do you have insurance?’” notes Tillman.
Acknowledge Patient Referrals
Referral programs are an easy way to thank loyal patients for referring their friends and family (and an effective method to grow your practice). Incentives such as gift certificates or coupons are a great way to motivate patients to make referrals.
Tillman encourages her clients to make donations to a patient’s charity of choice. For every patient who makes a referral, include his or her name in a monthly drawing and make a contribution to the winner’s favorite charity. “It’s a neat way to give recognition to the patient,” says Tillman.
Improve the Patient Experience
Patients have access to more information than ever before. Hence, many patients want to be more involved in their care and may have expectations for how their appointment should unfold.
“This is the new wave of the patient experience,” says Tillman. She encourages health care professionals to ask patients what they need for their care and what they would like to achieve during their appointment.
Patients cherish appreciation, but they also seek understanding and empathy. “If you treat patients with dignity and respect, you’re going to have a patient for life,” says Tillman.