Identifying Your Best Patients

If you were asked the question, “Who are your best patients?,” there is no doubt you could rattle off many of the patients in the practice you enjoy talking to, pay their bill on time, value the work you and your team do, and refer friends and family to the practice regularly.  On the other hand, If you were asked “Who are your most difficult patients?,”  I’m sure you could provide a list just as quickly that details the patients you have had trouble with in the past.  When looking to improve your internal marketing it is key to focus on one of these two groups.  No surprise, it should be the best patients we dedicate a vast majority of our effort and time to.

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Too often we treat our best patients in the exact opposite way they should be treated.  If the practice is running late and one of the great patients is in the waiting room, we justify letting them sit there because we know that they are one of the good patients who will “understand” why we are running late.  In other words, we will sometimes use up that goodwill to accommodate the problem patients so that every patient gets the same level of service.  If we want to improve the practice’s internal marketing we need to make sure that every time one of the best patients walk in the door they get exceptional service each time they are in the office.  The reason for this is simple; these are the patients who are most likely to refer their friends and family to the practice.  Plus these referrals are probably going to be great patients as well.

There are a few things every practice can do to make certain appropriate time and effort is being dedicated towards their best patients.

  1. With the help of your team, develop a list of characteristics (3-4) that describe your “best patients”.  Then use this to determine who your best patients actually are.
  2. In the practice’s practice management software or in the chart notes we need to clearly identify these patients.
  3. In the morning huddle the team needs to be aware of all the “best patients” coming in for the day.  In addition, the below should be discussed:
    • Why are they coming in?
    • Is there a chance this patient’s appointment could start late?
    • Who is going to greet them?
    • Any personal items about the patient
    • Who is going to ask that patient for a referral?

In reality we should be doing these things for every patient.  However if we are going to grow the practice through internal marketing we cannot afford to skip it for our best patients.

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This approach accepts the fact that your best patients are going to be the source of your growth, while the problem patients could hinder improvement.  Rather than trying to accommodate the problem patient’s every need, we should be asking “Is this person a great fit for our office?”  If the answer is no, then we should look at transitioning this patient out of the practice.

This is not an easy thing to do, but it is critical to ensuring you receive the greatest gains for the finite amount of time you have to dedicate towards internal marketing.

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