10 Things Your Patients Likely Won’t Tell You

what patients wont tell doctors

Have you ever walked into a business, saw something, and thought, “Wow! I don’t like that. I’m never coming here again!” Yet you never said a word to the person working about what it was that put you off? If so, you’re not alone.
According to Erika Andersen, founding partner of Proteus International and author of Be Bad First—Get Good at Things FAST to Stay Ready for the Future, giving feedback is a struggle for a lot of people. Worries of how a person will react and not knowing what to say are two reasons people fail to speak up.
In the healthcare field specifically, there are some pieces of feedback which patients often choose not to share, preventing you from increasing your patient base. Here are the top ten:

1. “Your office is difficult to get to.”

Is parking limited around your practice, forcing people to park a distance to show up for their appointments? Or maybe you’re in a location that’s difficult to find? If so, your patients may not be saying so, yet this could be hurting you nonetheless. Consider also whether there are handicap parking spots near your door, allowing the disabled easier access.

2. “Your advertising is ineffective.”

It’s pretty hard to gain new patients when your advertising is lacking, yet most current patients probably won’t tell you when they think your marketing campaign is ineffective. They may see common faux pas such as being too diverse or failing to provide social proof of your ability to help patients. AllBusiness.com shares a basic strategy for effective advertising: first, create a message specific to your target market, second, share why you’re a better choice than your competitors, and finally, advertising in places where you’ll find your ideal clients.

3. “Your messy office is off-putting.”

If people walk into your office and it’s dirty or cluttered, they’ll likely think you as a health professional are unclean and disorganized—not exactly what people want with a healthcare provider. Start with the bathroom: the most important area that determines the overall cleanliness of any business.

4. “Your equipment causes me concern.”

Your patients may not be saying a word about your archaic chiropractic equipment, but how would you feel if you were to walk into a dentist’s office and saw no power tools, only a row of clamps and picks that look like they belong in ancient times? By using updated technology, your patients will feel more at ease knowing you care enough to use the latest, most pain-free techniques and equipment.

5. “Your health condition and behaviors make me wonder why I should listen to you.”

A 2013 study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that healthcare providers who were overweight “may be vulnerable to biased attitudes from patients,” resulting in reduced credibility, trust, and a greater reluctance when it comes to taking your advice. Thus, if you aren’t tending to your physical health, your patients will have a harder time listening to your well-intentioned advice. Teach by example.

6. “You don’t make sense.”

If you aren’t explaining your diagnostic findings or failing to offer proof as to why you suggest certain treatment remedies, your patients may feel like you aren’t making enough sense to follow through with your proposed treatment plans.

7. “Your staff is unprofessional.”

Your staff is a direct extension of you. So unprofessional behavior on their part may cause patients to discontinue treatment and leave you wondering why they never returned. According to CEO.com, one way to overcome this is to hire a “customer service superstar”, someone who is personable, adaptable, ambitious, patient, knowledgeable, and organized.

8. “The way you speak makes me uncomfortable.”

Do you ever curse around or to your patients or openly discuss your views about controversial topics like politics and religion? How you speak, whether or not you’re talking directly to them, can greatly influence whether they’ll continue their care. Remember, when a patient is in pain, the last thing they want to hear is your problems.

9. “You don’t look like a professional.”

While casual Fridays may give you and your staff something to look forward to, being too casual every day may keep your patients from seeing you as the professional you are. CheatSheet shares that looking like a pro means practicing good hygiene, wearing clothes that fit, and making sure your shoes are polished and shined.

10. “Your treatments don’t feel good.”

Patients who experience uncomfortable treatment sessions may not be telling you if your adjustments are too light or forceful, but they’ll likely tell their family and friends, making this feedback invaluable. So check in with them throughout the treatment sessions and make sure the both of you are happy with the care.

Sometimes what your patients aren’t saying is more important than what they are. Much of the above tips are common sense. But in the throes of a busy, growing office, they can be overlooked. Doctors would greatly benefit from taking a step back and looking at their practices through the eyes of their patients.

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