4 Customer Service Tips for Doctors

1. Show Patients That You Actually Care

Of course, you care. You wouldn’t be a doctor if you didn’t care, right? It’s not always clear to patients that doctors actually care. Remember that most patients don’t want to be in your office. They are often feeling bad or scared or both, so they are in a particularly vulnerable situation. Listen, empathize, and treat patients the way you would want to be treated.

2. Give Patients a Say in their Treatment

Lay out the options. Tell them what you would do if it was your loved one.  And, then ask how they want to proceed. If they choose a course that you don’t agree with, have a conversation about why you think it’s a bad idea and document it. Ultimately though, be their advocate and supporter, not a dictator. 

3. Educate Yourself on Non-traditional Treatments and Keep a Straight Face

Your patients are taking over the counter supplements, using essential oils, and Googling for treatments…. whether you want them to or not. If you give them the stink eye about these things, they will just lie to you. Would you rather know what your patient was taking or not?? 

Choose to educate yourself on the non-traditional treatments so you can speak openly with your patients about them. It’s okay to say that you aren’t a fan of them and that there is a huge lack of research on the efficacy and dangers. It’s okay to say that we don’t know the long-term effects of these things. It’s okay to say that taking them in lieu of real medicine can be dangerous. 

They key is to have an open, informed conversation. 

4. Read the Paperwork You Have Patients Fill Out

It’s not okay to have patients fill out 10 minutes of paperwork and not look at it. It is okay to read it in front of the patient. You are human.  You aren’t expected to know everything about every patient. Want the patient to feel like you spent more time with them? Scan their paperwork in front of them. Walk in, greet them, and say “Give me just a minute to read through your paperwork” or “Give me a second to refresh my memory on your medical history/prescriptions.” 

About the Author

Amanda Brummitt has extensive healthcare customer service experience in hospitals, medical practices, and as a consultant. She’s a customer service snob that thinks asking people to be nice isn’t asking too much. She believes that the vast majority of doctors are good people that care about their patients and that sometimes they just need a little help conveying that. 

5 Customer Service Tips for Medical Assistants

1. Rooming Patients

When you grab a patient from the lobby, it’s the first opportunity to make a friendly impression. Please don’t stand at the door and say “Smith.” At a minimum, say “Ms./Mr. Smith” and look around the lobby to make eye contact with the patient as they come to the door. If there is only one patient in the lobby, walk up to them and ask if they are Ms./Mr. Smith. If they are a returning patient, say “Welcome back” when they make it to the door. Ask how they are. 

2. Tell Patients What to Expect

Let them know what you are about to do. For example, say “We are going to get your height and weight. Then, I’ll take you to the exam room to get your vitals and learn about what we can do to help you today.”

3. The Scale

Be sensitive to the fact that most patients aren’t ecstatic about hopping on the scale. Use discretion when saying the weight. If they are there for weight loss and have lost weight, praise them for it. 

When you weigh patients, have somewhere they can place their belongings or offer to hold them. It’s gross to set your purse on the floor of a doctor’s office. 

4. The Interview

Explain that you are going to ask a bunch of questions to help get the most accurate picture of their health. Go ahead and address that the provider may repeat some of the questions to get further clarity. Listen to the patient. Make eye contact. Don’t just look at the screen. Face your screen towards the patient so your face is towards them the whole time. 

If they are a new patient, this is a great time to talk up the provider. Let them know that the doctor/physician assistant/nurse practitioner is very knowledgable and will take great care of them. 

5. The Exit

Recap any instructions from the doctor with patients and walk them to the spot to check out. Let them know what to do if they have questions once they get home (portal, call, email, etc.). Wish them a happy day or hope for feeling better. 

About the Author

Amanda Brummitt has extensive healthcare customer service experience from hospitals, medical practices, and as a consultant. She’s a customer service snob that thinks asking people to be nice isn’t asking too much. She believes the support staff is just as important as the doctor in making sure patients have a positive experience. 

5 Front Office Customer Service Tips to Implement in Your Practice This Week

1. Signs

Walk into your lobby like a patient.  See it from their view. 

Do you have any signs that sound mean? 
Do you have any signs that sound rude? 
Do you have a sign that says, “Don’t tap on the window,” “Payment expected at time of service,” or “If you are more than X minutes late….”? 
Do you have more than two signs in your lobby?  

If you answered yes to any of these questions, take those signs down.  Have you ever seen a sign at a MedSpa that says payment is expected up front?  Nope.  Let’s treat your patients at least as good as a MedSpa.  Your office should be a safe place for patients; not one where they feel unwelcome.  Signage should be friendly and welcoming or not exist at all.  Promote new services, new providers, social media, or survey tools in your signage…not policies.  Patients are customers.  Treat them that way.  Don’t treat your patients like an inconvenience before they even get the opportunity to talk to your staff. 

2. Eye Contact, Smile, Greet

When a customer walks in the front door, the front desk person should make eye contact and smile.  When the customer gets about three feet from the front desk, they should greet them warmly.  “Hello, how are you?” is a great start.  If they are on the phone, they can still smile and mouth “I’ll be right with you” or make a hand gesture to indicate it.  Essentially, make sure the customer knows they’ve been seen and acknowledged. 

3. The Window

Oh, how I loathe the window.  If your practice is in a dangerous area and you see patients at night, okay, you can have a window.  And, thank you for loving humanity enough to practice somewhere that needs healthcare so desperately. 

Outside of actual dangerous situations, what is the deal with the window?  Are we hiding from patients or what?  And please don’t say it’s because of HIPAA.  You can absolutely be HIPAA compliant without being closed off to the lobby. 

I prefer no window.  If you have a window, keep it open all the time.  If the window is frosted, shame on you.  If it’s an overlay remove it.  If it’s built into the glass, keep it open all the time. 

Don’t build barriers between you and your patients.  Remove them.  And start with that window. 

4. Name Tags

Did you know it is a patient’s right to know the name of the person caring for them and what their credentials are?  Every member of your team should wear a name tag every single day, including doctors and administrators. 

Also, people behave better when they know someone knows their name…because patients can tell on them.  Using names also starts to build familiarity. 

If 100% of your office isn’t wearing name tags now, order them today.  High turnover? Fine.  Use a label maker for the name/credentials on blank name tags with your logo.  If you need help finding a vendor for name tags, we’re happy to share who we use.

5. Addressing Patients

When checking in a patient, script your staff’s language.  My preferred language is, “Hi, how are you? (Pause for answer.) What’s your name?”  Say hi before asking for name.  And, it’s “your” name, not “the” name.  I hate it when someone says, “What’s the name?”  Seems so impersonal to me. 

Want to step it up a notch?  Try to remember patient names.  Include a pic (even if is the driver’s license picture) in a patient’s medical record.  When it’s a repeat patient, look at the schedule and see if you can figure out their name.  How much better is it when staff can say, “Hi Mrs. Smith.  Welcome back.  I’ve got you checked in.”  Bam.  Service.  Or, even say, “Hi! Welcome back.  Can you remind me what your name is?”  Acknowledging that the person is recognized is HUGE!!

About the Author

Amanda Brummitt has worked in healthcare since 2001 in administration of both hospitals and medical practices.  She’s a customer service snob that thinks asking people to be nice isn’t asking too much.  She loves secret shopping physician practices, customer service training for clinical and non-clinical staff, and using customer service to improve the patient experience. 

10 Years of Building The Brummitt Group Family: Metro Anesthesia

In Fall of 2010, The Brummitt Group had just celebrated our second birthday and was plugging along with three employees.  We were working on projects for many clients, including the first three that we’ve talked about in previous posts.

And then, Doug Welch called.  As you may recall from the first post in this series, Doug has a knack for making phone calls that change the course. 🙂 He was the CEO of Medical City Lewisville.   The phone call went something like this:

Doug: My anesthesia practice is looking for a CEO/COO with strong recruiting and business development skills.  I know you are doing your own thing, but I think you’d be great if you are interested.

Amanda: I’m flattered you thought of me, but I love what I’m doing.  I’m working in my pajamas right now.  Why would I ever give that up?

Doug: They are really good docs and I think you’d like them.  Will you just do me a favor and meet with them?  If you end up not being interested, then maybe you can help them find someone.

Amanda: Sure, I can do that.

Amanda met with Norm Rice, MD and Stephen Ellis, MD of Metro Anesthesia a few weeks later.  She was impressed with the doctors and felt like it could be a great project, but wasn’t willing to give up The Brummitt Group.  She pitched to them a consulting gig.  They countered with going through the interview process and then only considering a consulting gig if she didn’t want to work directly for the group after that.  Clever guys!  She interviewed with their Management Committee and it was a great fit.

She’s still not sure how she got talked into it, but Amanda accepted a full-time position as their Chief Operating Officer!  They did agree to allow her to continue with The Brummitt Group.  It was a wonderful experience that stretched her skills, taught her a ton about hospital-based practices, and deepened her knowledge of anesthesia, revenue cycle management, and operations.

She got to work on a public education campaign with other large anesthesia groups about why you might want a Physician Anesthesiologist for your care, DoctorByYourSide.org.  She helped Metro produce their first press releases and improve their marketing materials.

She worked with the group to formalize many of their operating practices, negotiate hospital and payor contracts, improve their Requests for Proposal, and managed the day-to-day operations of the practice with the help of a great internal team, many who grew in their positions!

I knew a lot about anesthesia as it pertained to patient-care and hospitals, but nothing about how they got paid, how they scheduled, and daily operations.  I think I learned the most from Dr. Rice’s drawings.  He would create these elaborate charts by hand and run the numbers on staffing/revenue/anything else you needed on hand or in his head!  So smart!!  Of course, I needed it all in Excel.  But, I had to learn the why before I could learn the how.  Putting Dr. Rice’s brilliant plans into Excel formulas/charts was a great way to learn!  After just a few months, I could build sophisticated models…and learned quickly because he started with the why.  – Amanda

A little over a year into it, Amanda was loving Metro, but felt like she wasn’t giving enough of herself to The Brummitt Group.  It’s hard to do two jobs well, and it took losing a key employee at The Brummitt Group for her to see this.  With much sadness, Amanda resigned her position at Metro, or at least attempted to.  Apparently, the relationship had come full circle.  Richard Haldeman, MD countered with a consulting gig!

Amanda gladly accepted the offer to continue her operational/strategic responsibilities, and The Brummitt Group enthusiastically assumed many ongoing and as-needed responsibilities at Metro including launching a Facebook page, graphic design, printing, press releases, and website updating/design.

The Brummitt Group team worked closely with the Metro Marketing Committee, led at the time by Jenni Germany, MD and Jamie Sunny, MD.  Dr. Germany, Dr. Sunny, Dalia, and Amanda freshened up Metro’s logo and created a new identity package, launched a new website, created their first Facebook page, and first Twitter profile.  There were also many event invitations, holiday cards, brochures, and sign creations.

We had a blast working with the Metro team on everything from quality initiatives to patient satisfaction to branding and even revenue cycle management with the awesome folks from abeo!

And, they are some of our very favorite anesthesiologists!  You only want the best putting you to sleep…and we trust Metro Anesthesia.

medical logo

10 Years of Building The Brummitt Group Family: Surgical Group of North Texas

In February of 2009, we got a call from Dr. Ed Clifford of Irving-Coppell Surgical Associates that they were adding a new physician (Dr. Shahid Shafi, who is now their CEO), opening a new office, in the process of becoming Surgical Group of North Texas, and needed help marketing all of it.  Amanda had the pleasure of working with Dr. Clifford and his partners (Dr. Sina Matin and Dr. Julio Rivera) when at Medical City Las Colinas, so she knew they were great physicians that would be a good fit for The Brummitt Group.

We kicked off with a strategic plan and marketing campaign focused around the new office, new physician, and new brand.  Since that time, we’ve organized Open Houses, facilitated outreach campaigns, done photo shoots, assisted with operational and strategic decisions, developed press releases, and created countless print and web advertisements.

These projects have been accomplished with help from the surgeons and staff, as well as many other vendors.  We like to brag that we “play well with others,” and Surgical Group of North Texas is a fantastic example of that.  Level 2, Frontier Marketing, Expio, HomeKey Studios, McEwen & Associates, Schwenn & Associates, AlphaGraphics, Ultimate Bariatrics, and The Press Group are just a few of the folks that we’ve worked beside for Surgical Group of North Texas.  In fact, we are very aware of what we do really well and what others do better so we never hesitate to work with others who can balance our strengths with theirs.

Over the years, we’ve seen the group grow to seven surgeons, add additional service lines and niche specialties, build their own building, hire Dr. Shahid Shafi as their Chief Executive Officer, and continue to set the bar for surgical services in North Texas.  They provide excellent patient care at eight locations and counting across the DFW metroplex.  And our own team, family and friends can vouch for their amazing care.

Surgical Group of North Texas remains a client today, and we are thrilled to have witnessed their exciting growth.  We just love working with them.

10 Years of Building The Brummitt Group Family: Tuscan Cardiovascular Center

Dr. J. Douglas Overbeck was our second client, and we’ve had a blast working with him for the last 10 years!  Around the same time that The Brummitt Group was forming, Dr. Overbeck was joining Medical & Surgical Clinic of Irving.  He had the concept of Tuscan Cardiovascular Center – a beautiful office (decorated by his talented wife) and one of the best Cardiologists with a solid reputation for over 20 years (himself).  He just needed someone to help tell his story.

Tuscan Cardiovascular Center Identity Package

We used his beautiful office as inspiration for a color palette and teamed up with Sage Island for design services to build a logo, identity, and brand.  Since then, we’ve worked with Dr. Overbeck on a myriad of projects from rolling out endovascular laser therapy and radiofrequency ablation for varicose veins to opening satellite offices in Stephenville and Granbury.  We’ve helped set up screenings, created and managed advertising campaigns, built a website, streamlined forms, produced press releases, managed article publications, photo shoots, and scheduled speaking engagements.

Photo Shoot with Freeman Photography – The beautiful Donna Castro

Through Dr. Overbeck, we also got to know the amazing team at Medical & Surgical Clinic of Irving (recently changed to Baylor Scott & White Medical & Surgical CIinic Irving) including Jeff Duke and Lynne Hollyfield.  Jeff and Lynne really set the bar for practice administration!  They run a lean, efficient, and patient-centered organization.  It’s been our pleasure to work on outreach projects in Ophthalmology, Neurology, Pain Management, Pediatrics, ObGyn, Nephrology, and Endocrinology with them, as well as press releases, advertising, brochures, and social media.

In a very kind Facebook review, Jeff Duke said, “We have appreciated the excellent work from Amanda and her team at The Brummitt Group for many years. They consistently deliver timely and effective marketing information, press releases and assistance with our new physician practice referral development process. Thanks for the wonderful support of Medical & Surgical Clinic of Irving.”

Fun fact about our work with Dr. Overbeck: It’s created friend of a friend of a friend projects!  Dr. Overbeck introduced us to Medical & Surgical Clinic of Irving who recommended us to Dr. Vipin Kuriachan (a fantastic Ophthalmologist) who then suggested us to Dr. Tina Ali Mohammad (the coolest Psychiatrist we have ever met)!  We’d like to extend a huge THANK YOU to Dr. Overbeck for trusting us with his marketing needs…and being a conduit for us to do so many fun projects for so many great physicians.

10 Years of Building The Brummitt Group Family: Healthcare Associates of Texas

The Brummitt Group wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for our amazing clients.  We’ve been blessed to work with some of the best doctors around.

Our first client…and current client is Dr. Charlie Powell, Founder and Executive Vice President of Clinical Operations for Healthcare Associates of Texas.  Amanda first met Dr. Powell when he and his better half, Keila, were still in Florida.  Amanda worked at Medical City Las Colinas and he was in the Navy.  She recruited him to Texas and to Healthcare Associates of Texas.  While growing his private practice in Irving, they worked together on a corporate wellness outreach campaign where Dr. Powell did health talks at many of the large corporations in Las Colinas.

About the same time that The Brummitt Group was being created, Healthcare Associates was recruiting a new specialist to their practice.  This was winter 2008.  Dr. Powell hired The Brummitt Group to build a strategic marketing plan for this physician and introduce him to the local community.

Facebook Cover designed by Sheerah Haywood

Here’s what Dr. Powell had to say when we asked how he felt about working with The Brummitt Group after that project: “Amanda with The Brummitt Group has been the real reason for all of my success here.  She helped recruit me to the area and into a wonderful practice.  This has given me the opportunity to thrive and build a wonderful and very busy organization.  I now own the multispecialty practice, imaging center, sleep lab, pharmacy and other businesses that she helped me build through many other forms of advertising and promotion of me and my ventures.  Now that I own the practice and businesses, she has always been there in my times of need.  She has even been willing to step in as my acting CEO in a tough time of transition.  Her current projects with me include promoting my new physician and getting his practice started from the ground up.  Her numerous and invaluable contacts she has established in this area have proven to be an incredible asset.  Her continued devotion and attention to detail have made her and my ventures a wonderful success.  I recently started a new dietary supplement company called MetaRevive and had hopes of it being a hobby at best.”

physician marketing
Poster designed by Dalia Steer

D. Powell added, “Early on I realized that I had a great product line and a lot of demand for it.  I knew I had to quickly take my “mom and pop” operation and turn it into a top-notch business with a professional flare.  Amanda was the first person I called to help with this.  Within hours, she had formulated a lengthy and detailed plan on taking my new venture to the next level and beyond.  Her incredible professionalism and dedication to her work are extremely notable but are shadowed by her skill and genuine care that she brings to each project.  I look forward to the many future projects we will have together and the continued success she brings to them.  Thanks, Amanda.”

Open House Invitation designed by Dalia Steer

Since then, we’ve helped Dr. Powell and his team with everything from packaging design of MetaRevive, to secret shopping prospective acquisitions, to organizing open houses, to secret shopping and process improvement in their call center and pharmacy, to developing their website, to managing social media, to helping market all the cool procedures he develops.  Yes, develops.  He’s that guy!  He’s developed hair restoration procedures, allergy shot protocols, and ways to reduce/eliminate snoring.  He’s always looking for ways to improve the lives of his patients.

We can’t talk about Dr. Powell without telling you about Courtney!  Courtney LeClaire is Practice Manager of Cosmetic & Wellness Division of HealthCare Associates and she’s been working with us since the MetaRevive days.  We just adore her!  She is the glue that holds everything together on the aesthetic side of the practice….and she keeps Dr. Powell on task. 🙂  We asked Courtney what she loved about working with us and here is what she said: “Collaborating on ideas, working as a team, knowing that you all care about the final outcome, as well.”

We are incredibly thankful to Dr. Powell, Courtney, Keila, and all of the Healthcare Associates of Texas Family! It’s been fun seeing them evolve and growing with them.  Thank you, Dr. Powell, for trusting us with that first project and every one along the way over the last 10 years!

Fight on! ...from Matt Barkley and I

10 Years of Building The Brummitt Group Family: Where it All Began

Hi there; it’s Amanda.  As hard as it is to believe, The Brummitt Group celebrates it’s 10th anniversary this year!  It started with just me and a plastic desk from Costco.  Over ten years, The Brummitt Group family has grown and evolved.  Join us for a series of posts about our team, our clients, and the projects that have shaped us.

So, how did it all begin?

To think about the start of The Brummitt Group, I have to rewind … to 2005.  I was working for HCA Inc. at Las Colinas Medical Center (now Medical City Las Colinas).  I was the Director of Physician & Business Development, Marketing, and Managed Care.  Not a typo.  I had all those jobs thanks to Dany Decell and Doug Welch condensing roles and cobbling together an amazing position.  My ultimate goal was to be a hospital CEO.  Within HCA, the fastest way to do this was through the COO Development program, and to apply, I needed a master’s degree.  I had an undergraduate degree in business and wanted to stretch myself, so I considered JD, MPH, and MHA.  I landed on JD because law had always fascinated me.  The night before my LSAT, Doug Welch called me.  Doug had always been a bit of an unofficial mentor for me.  The short version goes like this:

Doug: “Do you want to be a lawyer or a hospital CEO?”
Me: “A hospital CEO”
Doug: “Then why are you going to law school?  Go get an MHA.”

I bailed on my LSAT and narrowed it down to two in-classroom Executive MHA programs, University of Southern California and Cornell.  USC won out.  With a lot of my family in San Diego, I thought I’d get to see them since I’d be spending time in LA.  I didn’t.  During the 17 months that I cranked through a 34-month program, I didn’t have time to see them even once!

USC was an amazing experience.  Our faculty were incredible … many sitting CEOs of large organizations.  And my classmates were pretty impressive, too!  We had doctors, lawyers, health plan execs, hospital execs, lobbyists, and IT execs.  It was like going to a conference every weekend when we had class.  Oh, did I mention it was weekends in LA?  Yep, I was very blessed to have an amazing boss, Dany Decell, that worked with me on my schedule.  I was a full-time hospital executive, single mom, and traveled to LA every other Friday – Sunday for class.  Yes, I might have been working during class…but it worked out just fine!

About those classmates … I met one of my very best friends who was definitely a key to the Brummitt name.  She set me straight when I was unclear whether or not I was ready to get married.  I was.  She knew it.  But, I’m getting ahead of the story.  We were both “commuter” students and instantly hit it off that first weekend of class.  At some point, we had the conversation about how silly it was for both of us to be paying for hotels/cabs in downtown LA and started sharing a room, and effectively became roommates.  She helped me with public policy and I helped her with finance.  Oh, you may have heard of her.  She’s sorta famous.  She was on the cover of Time Magazine for being a Silence Breaker and speaking up to eliminate discrimination, sexual harassment and assault within employment and academic settings.  Yep, I knew Adama Iwu when we were grad school students just trying to get a paper written so we could live the LA high life on a pooled $20!  Our cohort really was amazing.  Just Google Henri Ford MD.  Amazing surgeon and humanitarian.  And we got to do group projects with him!  His online profile doesn’t come close to how fantastic he is in person. 

Early Spring 2008, I was in the doctor’s lounge at Medical City Las Colinas and one of the physicians randomly suggested that I should start my own consulting company.  It was either Ted Krum MD or Steve Hoffman MD.  I don’t remember what sparked the conversation or which of these brilliant ObGyns said it, but I quickly dismissed it.  (THANK YOU to whichever of you guys suggested this!).  I had several of these odd moments where the idea came up, but I just wasn’t really interested in leaving hospital administration.

A few weeks later and nearing completion of my program, I’m sitting in my Physician Practice Management class taught by Michael Harris and had an epiphany.  Harris, who had been the CEO of Healthcare Partners, a large practice in Torrence, CA, told his personal story of walking away from this dream job to start a consulting company.  All of his reasons spoke to me.  I had never planned to walk away from the corporate life.  I loved HCA.  I loved being in hospital administration.  And, all of a sudden, his personal story rocked my plan.  (THANK YOU, Michael Harris!).

I was also about to get married to the ever-amazing, Bret Brummitt.  We had big plans … all of which included me being a hospital CEO with a large steady income, health insurance, and retirement.  He was on board and supportive of trashing all those plans and taking the risks of me starting a company.  Did I mention he was (and still is) self-employed?  Yep, two self-employed people which was terrifying to me as I’m pretty risk averse.  But, he had faith in me and pushed me to go for it.  Hence, the name of the The Brummitt Group!

Now, to clear up some misconceptions about The Brummitt Group.  No, Bret doesn’t work here.  No, Bret doesn’t own it.  And, for goodness sake … No, Dalia, Lian, Lillie, and I don’t work for Bret.  I just named the company after him … and someday plan to get around to legally changing my name to Brummitt.  Thanks to Bret for believing in the vision!

That’s the beginning in a nutshell.  Huge thanks to the people that influenced me along the way…whether they knew it or not!!  And, in case you were wondering what happened to that plastic Costco desk…it gets used every now and then for a health fair or open house. 😉