Exceeding Patients’ Expectations

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Neil Baum, MD

Clinical Associate Professor of Urology, Tulane Medical School, New Orleans, LA

Author, Marketing Your Clinical Practice-Ethically, Effectively, and Economically, Jones Bartlett Publishers


It is a dictum of any successful business to under promise and over deliver. This is also true in the healthcare profession. For the most part doctors are well-trained to diagnose and treat diseases. In evaluating a patient, taking a history and a physical examination and performing a few laboratory tests in order to make a diagnosis, is accomplished by nearly every physician. So what makes you and your practice unique? Finding your uniqueness is a challenge for every physician and every practice regardless of the size of the practice, the location of the practice, and whether it is an academic practice or a community practice. Often times, you can exceed patients expectations regarding their medical care by providing them with small kindnesses and courtesies.

For example, you can give patients outdated magazines that they are reading in your reception area or your examination rooms. You can provide patients with reading glasses in the reception area in order that patients can easily read the forms and questionnaires that are used in your practice. We have covered the metal stirrups on the examination tables with colorful pot holders in order to avoid a cold sensation of putting their feet on to the cold metal. We also warmed the metallic vaginal speculums under tepid water before examining the women in the practice. We call all patients at home who have had an office procedure, a procedure performed in the ambulatory treatment center or patients who have recently been discharged from the hospital to check on their condition, to answer any questions they may have, and to make a follow-up appointment.

Bottom line: These are just a few examples that we use on a regular basis to make every effort to exceed patients’ expectations regarding their healthcare. In order to have a successful practice it is necessary to ensure that every patient has a positive experience every time they interact with you and your practice.