Friday, July 26, 2013

The Patient’s Perception = The Provider’s Reality


By Michael Sweeney, Vice President at

Social Media outlets including Twitter and Facebook, along with geotargeted internet search engines Google, Bing and Yahoo, are providing medical Patients a court of public opinion.  More than ever, Patient “clients” are grading their Doctor visits, and sharing those grades with other Patient consumers. 

These consumers #1 complaint is customer service, largely relating to time spent in the waiting room area, and time spent in the exam room also waiting for the Provider.  Even after these “longer than necessary waits,” the Doctor then may only invest5-10 minutes with the Patient.  While the overall time spent in the office usually exceeds 75 minutes, only a small fraction of that time is spent with a nurse and/or Doctor.  Of course, the Patient ends up with a bill that reflects an inappropriate fee for the “Perceived” service rendered.

Sites like,,, and even Angie’s List, allow patients to grade their Physician and services provided. Courteousness of Staff, Ease of Appointment, Bedside Manner, Promptness, Spends Time with Me and Average Wait to see the Doctor, are just a sample of the criteria provided these Patient consumers.

These are identifying criteria that trigger upset Patients to grade more frequently and respond more vigorously than do happy patients.  This is the observation of most industries.

While there are counter website services available to medical practices to combat negative feedback, doesn’t it make sense to take a proactive approach and create Consumer Advocacy for your practice..?

Waiting rooms and patient exam rooms are appropriate places to market your services and provide patient education.

Now more than ever, Physicians are “competing” for client Patients.  As Patients wait in waiting areas, it’s time to use tools that allow you to help reduce perceived wait times in your clinic while providing patient education.  Instead of the mainstream media dominating your waiting areas, it’s time to use the existing TV in your waiting room as a Patient education platform pertinent to your specialty, and as marketing tool to promote your ancillary services, drive top-line revenue, discuss technology implemented by your practice for meaningful use and of course provide some light-hearted entertainment. Engage your patients and make them laugh, give them something they will remember or ask for that may be an additional preventive service, test or product that you have started to market to make up for the short fall of insurance reimbursements.

Patient education is supposed to be an integral part of the medical encounter.  From the moment the patient hits the waiting room, through their wait time in the exam room.  Design consultants advise doctors to fill the waiting room with educational materials, including brochures, booklets, and posters.

However, the 21st century Consumer is beyond out dated pamphlets and fold-out marketing cards.  Your Patient Consumers are getting their information from flat screen monitors (televisions).  You have that infrastructure and should utilize it… 

LifeSignsWeb is that tool.

Create your own private waiting room TV network. Improve the patients’ Perceived waiting experience and decrease their perceived wait times. Take control of media and messaging delivered to your captured audience. Benefits should be to improved patient satisfaction, focus delivered patient education and happy light hearted entertainment.

Deliver enhanced informative communications such as office related information (Practice Portal Sign-up), health screenings initiatives, preventive health options, advertise new products, services, local community involvement and speaking engagements, announce locations and of course welcome new providers to your growing practice.

Bring the patients into your Reality. Inform them of the new technology you are implementing to provide them with better patient care and timely access to their records.  Let them know these are compliances that must be met to provide care and to meet the ever changing requirements of healthcare.

Effective communications will and can enrich your Patient Customer’s time in your practice. Let the patient know that their perception is your reality, that you care, appreciate their patience and loyalty, and that you want to be their Doctor, and they will spread the word.


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