DPC Docs: Make it All About the Patient

Do you want to convert more prospective patients into member patients? Is your sales pitch a sad story of burnout and how the insurance companies treated you badly? Patients don’t want to hear this.

They want to hear how you are going to improve their quality of life, their health, and the efficiency and thought around receiving medical care. That’s it.

Sales 101. Ask questions first.

Talk second. If you start with your pitch with how or why you became a Direct Primary Care Physician and what you can offer the patient, you are wasting precious time. You don’t know what they want or what is important to them. Maybe they want access. Maybe they want empathy. Maybe they want cost reduction. Maybe they want diagnostic depth. Maybe they want all of that. You have to questions FIRST before you give your sales pitch.

Sales 102. It’s ALL about the customer.

It’s not about you. Again, they don’t want to hear your sad story about how the system exploited you. They came to your office for happiness, not sadness. They may want to tell you their sad story about all the perceived failings of the system in their care. You should listen intently and empathize, then remember those points in your sales pitch. You aren’t friends. They aren’t your therapist. This isn’t a back and forth conversation of sharing mutual hurts. It’s a prospective patient telling a prospective physician what they are and aren’t looking for in a patient-physician relationship. They are looking for a physician that is excited to go to work every day and think about improving their life.

What questions should you be asking?

Why are you considering leaving your current primary care doctor?

What is important to you in a physician-patient relationship?

What is important to your other family members in a physician-patient relationship?

What is appealing to you about the DPC model?

What are you most concerned about when considering a DPC relationship?

You should get most of what you need from those questions and may even be able to skip some. Then, tailor your pitch to their answers. If ALL of their answers are around access, don’t even talk about money. Or, if it’s all around getting the time to have proactive care, focus on that.  Then, talk about how you are going to partner with them on the journey of health – whatever that looks like for them. Maybe they need to lose 5 pounds, maybe they want to reduce the number of medications they take, or maybe they are great and want to stay that way. Use your discretion to focus your precious “sales” time to talk about the things they care about.

And, ask them questions to see if they are a good fit for you. Are there certain types of patients you just can’t handle? Screen for that. Are you adamantly opposed to mixing essential oils and medications? Say so upfront. Use the interview time to figure out if this is a good fit for both of you. 

I’d love your feedback and ideas on verbiage that has worked..or hasn’t. I believe in the DPC movement and want to see it work. This blog post was inspired by actual events…that happened twice. 😂

Doctor office phone

Telephone Customer Service for Doctor’s Offices – Tips and Tricks for Success

Seems obvious, right?   Just answer the phone, then book the appointment.  After all, THEY called YOU.  But today’s reality is it hardly ever works that way.  Today’s patient is strapped for time, may have little understanding of how his medical insurance actually works, and is likely frustrated at the need to use it in the first place.  If one phone obstacle occurs – like a long hold time, an uninformed receptionist, or scheduling difficulty – a patient will often hang up and try the next physician on their list.  Luckily there are lots of ways to improve the telephone experience. 

Answering, Greeting, and Gathering Initial Information

  • Clearly answer the phone with a greeting, the practice name, your name and an offer to help.  Example “Hello!  This is Dr. Smith’s office.  My name is Melissa.  How can I help you today?” 
  • The next step is to listen, genuinely listen.  Give the patient time to explain why she is calling.  When the other line rings, pay attention to the person you’re actually speaking with and don’t let the other line distract you.
  • Have pen and paper on hand – take notes!  Asking the caller to constantly repeat information she has already provided is rude, irritating and probably frustrating for her.

Being Nice Matters a Whole Lot! 

  • Refer to callers as “Mr., Ms., or Mrs.” until they ask you to use their first name. 
  • Be sure to speak in the present tense.  “What IS your last name?”, not “What was your last name?”
  • If you weren’t able to write down a caller’s name and you’ve forgotten it, ask him to spell his name rather than telling them you forgot.  Callers know people don’t forget things that are important to them!
  • Use the caller’s name as much as possible.  “Thank you, Mrs. Patel”.  “May I place you on hold, Mr. Alexander?”  “We’ll see you in September, Ms. Nguyen.”  Use the word PLEASE.  “Can you please check for me?”, rather than “Can you go check?”
  • Say THANK YOU, not thanks.  And then say thank you as many times as you can!
  • Use the word MAY instead of can.  It sounds so much more polite.
  • Use positive words like sure, absolutely, my pleasure, yes ma’am, and yes sir. 

Gathering Insurance and Financial Information

  • Ask “Who is the patient?” Don’t ask “What’s the patient’s name?”  It feels more human. 
  • When gathering birthday information, ask for his (her or your) birthday, not “the patient’s DOB”. Again, much more human.
  • Be sure the person answering the phone at your office has a working understanding of how insurance claims are processed at your office.  In your office you may have a dedicated person who handles insurance claims. If this is the case, make sure the person answering the phone knows who that person is and warmly transfers those calls to that person. Extra training will have a big payoff here. 
  • Have a set protocol in place for financial questions.  The front office staff should be able to talk through general pricing, deductibles, co-insurance, etc.  If financing is an option, they should be able to explain this.  Pre-determine a person who can answer more complicated financial and insurance questions and make sure the front office staff knows who that person is.
  • In addition, have a pre-determined person who can respond to clinical questions.  Have a protocol set up to include a list of words which indicate a situation is normal, urgent, and emergency. 
  • If a caller mentions a new job (perhaps changing an appointment because of work) be sure to ask about new insurance information, and don’t forget to congratulate him on the new job!
  • Never ask a caller if his address is an apartment – but you can ask for a suite or unit number. 

Scheduling the Appointment

  • Make every possible effort to schedule the appointment when initially on the phone with the caller.  If you have to call her back, chances of scheduling are greatly reduced. 
  • Always ask the caller what date and time she is thinking about BEFORE telling her what you have available.
  • After agreeing on a date and time for the appointment, repeat it back at least once politely. “Mrs. Ryan, we look forward to seeing you on January 10 at 9:00am at our office located at 1234 Green Avenue.  Have a great day!”
  • Never tell the caller the doctor is on vacation, or out of the office.  Only say the doctor doesn’t have availability at a certain time. 

Holding and Transferring

  • Limit hold time!  The longer a caller is on hold, the more likely she is  to hang up and never call again.
  • Always be sure to have the caller’s phone number before transferring a call.
  • If a call is dropped during transfer, ALWAYS call back immediately and apologize for the error.
  • When transferring a call, be sure the caller knows who he will be talking to next.
  • Make “warm” transfers whenever possible.  Place the caller on hold,  locate the person that can best help them AND make sure that person is available to take a call right then.  Pick up the call, letting the caller know you’ve located the person who can help, provide the name, and then make the transfer. 

Implementing these phone tips and tricks is certain to make a big difference in the patient experience over the phone.  For the easy ones, implement right away.  This includes giving the caller the name of who they are being transferred to, using Mr./Ms., and using present tense.  For the ones that will take some practice, select one per day or week to implement.  These include warm transfers and using the patient’s name during the call.  They aren’t hard.  They just take a little practice to become habit.     


Picking a Doctor

Why Do Patients Select a Doctor?

Why do patients select a doctor and what can you do to maximize your possibility of being selected?

Some obvious ones include being referred by:
-primary care provider (PCP),
-hospital, emergency room, or urgent care center,
and
-insurance company.

Strategies here are pretty straightforward. Be nice to PCPs, send them reports after you see their patients, and remove any barriers (like insurance/networks) to make it easy for them to refer. Be nice and answer the calls of Hospitalists, ER Docs, and local urgent care docs. Ensure they have all of the correct information to refer to your practice (fax, address, insurances, what all you treat). On insurance companies, being in-network is key and check their online listings regularly to be sure your information is up to date. If it’s not, go through their credentialing department to get it updated.

Next set is pretty intuitive too. Patients pick a doctor because:
-their office is close to home, school, or work,
-availability or ease of scheduling,
-specific skills and specialties of the physician
,
and
-cost and financing options.
To maximize location, be sure that patients can clearly find all your locations on your website and allow them to visit the office that is most convenient to them. Be sure they know they can come to any office any time. Maybe one is close to home and one is close to work? And, consider offering telemedicine visits for established patients. Ease of scheduling appointments is important too. If all things are equal, patients will pick the doctor that can get them in first. Online scheduling is ideal, but if that’s not possible, at least allow appointment requests online. Think about offering 7:30 am or late afternoon appointments to catch professionals that have trouble getting off work (like teachers). Then, the cost. Patients really don’t know how much services cost before they come in, but the practice sure can ease fears and manage expectations upfront. Clear pricing is a great way to be selected over your competitor.

How about outside affiliations and their websites? Patients may consider:
-hospital affiliation or listing on a hospital website,
-vendor websites,

and
-society websites.
Some patients have a hospital they like and they pick doctors that go there or are affiliated with the facility. Seeing you listed on a hospital website seems like an unofficial endorsement and patients like that…as long as they like the hospital. Vendor websites can be particularly useful when you are listed on their “Find a Physician” section. They often spend big bucks on search engine optimization, so patients may find them before they find you. This is particularly useful for self-referable procedures. Examples include Medtronic’s VenaSeal™ or ClosureFast™ Find-A-Doctor listing and NovaSure’s Physician Locator for endometrial ablation. If you buy equipment or materials from reps, ask if they have these available. Additionally, most professional societies offer an online physician directory. Be sure your listing is up to date because being on these sites offers credibility in the patient’s eyes.

Spoiler alert: Being nice to people and updating online profiles will set you up for success on this set of reasons…and generally make your life better and easier. Patients often select a physician based on:
-the reputation of the physician for bedside manner, personality, & empathy,
-family, friend, or colleague recommendation,
-reviews on a medical site,

and
-consumer reviews on a non-medical site.
Reputation is pretty self-explanatory. Be nice to people. Even though it’s your 30th patient of the day and your 30,678th time to diagnose x, it’s the first time for the patient and they need to feel like you care. This plays well into the next three reasons people select a doctor. Personal recommendations from a family member, friend, or colleague weigh heavily when that information is available. It’s tangible and lets the patient feel like they have some control in their care. Review sites have grown exponentially for this reason. Reviews are their own article (or many articles), but here’s the short version. Claim and update your medical profiles on sites like Healthgrades, Vitals, and WebMD. Keep your information updated with the state medical board and CMS because many pull from those. Then, claim and update your profiles on Facebook, Google, and Yelp. Think you aren’t on those? You are. Read the reviews and respond to them in a professional, kind, HIPAA compliant manner.

Finally, patients do select doctors based on more traditional advertising methods like:
-a snazzy website, online advertising, magazine ad, or other paid media,
-a press release or media interview,

and
-best doctors lists.
A lot of patients will take a PCP recommendation and then go to Google to decide if they really want to use that doctor. A cohesive and engaging online presence definitely makes patients think you might be a good doctor. While it shouldn’t matter, a crummy website or no website will turn them off. And, finding complimentary print media reinforces what they’ve found online. Press releases and media interviews have a similar positive effect on the patient’s opinion of a potential physician, assuming the news is positive. And, then best doctors lists really do make patients think that doctor is the best. Getting on those lists is a huge strategy in itself. Check out this article to be sure you are on the right track.

How do you measure up on these? Would you pick your practice? If you aren’t sure, ask an unbiased person to go through these and let you know what they find and what conclusion they come to. Pick one strategy per week, per month, or per quarter and put your practice on top. Then, track where your patients come from and tweak your strategies based on that data.

Checklist for Events at Doctor’s Offices

You’ve planned the perfect event!  Now, let’s make sure no detail is missed on the day of the event.  Don’t let a missed item or forgotten to-do ruin the fun…or the purpose…growing the practice.

Four weeks before the event

  • Invite waaaaaay more people than you think will come.   Maybe 10% will actually come.  If you are a member of a Chamber of Commerce, their membership list is a great place to start.  Promote it on social media.
  • Block the clinic schedule.  Block it half an hour earlier than you think you need.  Don’t be shy about starting back seeing patients right at the end time though.  It’s a good way to get folks out the door.
  • Tidy up the office.  Remove unnecessary signage.  Touch up paint.  Repair or replace any sketchy looking furniture.  Clean the carpets, if needed.  Add a few decor touches to personalize the office, if needed.
  • Order food.  Order enough for how many you think will attend.  Don’t worry about having enough food.  Not everyone eats.  And, you don’t want leftovers.  Select food that is easy to eat standing…no cutting.
  • Order plates, forks, napkins, serving pieces, linens (if caterer isn’t providing).

One week before the event

  • Confirm with the caterer.
  • Do a mock set-up of the space after-hours to see how long it will take and if you are missing any items.
  • Promote the event daily on social media.
  • Let your staff and providers know if they need to wear anything in particular.

The day before the event

  • Confirm again with the caterer.
  • Do one last walk-through of the office to see if anything needs to be tidied.
  • Remind your staff and providers of what to wear and to have their name tags on.
  • Promote on social media.

The day of the event

  • Start early….hours earlier than you think you should.  Set up everything except food as early as you can.
  • Cross your fingers that everything goes as planned.
  • Post to social media during the event, especially if it’s a long event to draw in more attendees.
  • Have fun!!
  • Thank your team for participating and thank your guests for attending.

Best of Lists for Healthcare

We love them. We hate them. We want our clients on them.

There isn’t a perfect source for finding a quality doctor. In fact, there isn’t a single source we know of that takes everything into consideration (clinical quality, bedside manner, front office, billing practices, office experience) to rank a doctor. If you want to find a quality doctor, talk to someone that works in the industry. They know the good docs and more importantly, they know the ones to avoid. Great, now that we all agree a source doesn’t exist for the best doctors, we can talk about the “Best Of,” “Top Docs,” and other lists.

Some of them are voted on by peers. Some are voted on by the public. And, some are even a combination of the two. Are these flawed? Sure. Humans are flawed and humans are voting, so it’s flawed. Now that we can agree that the methodologies aren’t perfect, let’s address the other awkward subject that always comes up around these lists.

Can you buy your way onto them? Maybe. If we owned a magazine and had doctor’s advertising in my magazine, would we want them to win? You better believe it. Would we just put them on the list? No. But, we would make sure that my advertisers had all the appropriate tools to set themselves up to win. Tools? Yes, tools….and the actual point of this article.

We’ll split the tools up into Peer Voting and Public Voting. For the hybrids, just do both.

Peer Voting

This means doctors are voting for doctors. You typically need a medical license number to do this. Examples include D Magazine and Fort Worth Magazine. They key to winning these is to be 1. A very well known and well respected physician, 2. Organized about soliciting votes, or 3. Completely shameless in just simply asking your fellow physicians to vote for you. The first one is pretty self explanatory. We’ll expand on the other two.

If you are in a large practice, figure out as a group who you will be voting for and vote as a block. Do your homework to find out the minimum number of votes to be included or win, because you may be able to all win! Often, you’ll have to pick who to vote for though. It’s a tough call, but no one said winning is easy. Then, regardless of practice size, tactfully remind your peers in the community to vote. Don’t ask them to vote for you…just remind them to vote. Give them the link and the deadline. You’ll be top of mind, but haven’t actually asked. We recommend these reminders come from the actual physicians in the practice via email or text to personalize it.

If the shameless approach doesn’t make you cringe, then go for it! Ask every doctor you know in the community to vote for you. It’s not our preferred method, but we sure have seen it work.

Public Voting

When the public can vote, this is a great opportunity to engage with the public and the publication! Examples of these include Southlake Style and Living Well Magazine. Social media is your friend here. Plan an entire campaign around gently soliciting votes and reminding them to vote. Tag the publications in your posts. Many of the magazines like DFW Child and Living Magazine will even provide you materials to use. Use them! This is also the time to put your email campaigns to use. Send an email letting people know that voting has opened up and you would love their vote. While we aren’t huge fans of signage around the office, this is an exception. Use signs or tent cards around the office to let patients know that voting is open. They key is knowing when voting starts so you can promote it.

We keep a running list of the organizations, when voting starts, and when the winners are announced. Contact us and we’ll happily share! Good luck!

Health Fair How-To

Health Fairs are a great way to attract new potential patients for your practice.

Finding events

  • Check local Chambers of Commerce
  • Check with cities
  • Check with schools
  • Check with large employers
  • Google city + health fair, city + expo

Before the event

  • Promote on social media that you’ll be attending.
  • Confirm date, time, setup time, tear down time
  • Confirm table size, location, electricity, chairs, trash cans
  • Determine if you are offering screenings.  BP is easy and almost fee.  Glucose is inexpensive.  Here is a list of ideas to engage participants through screenings.
  • Work with Site Manager to arrange staffing
  • Order/gather any supplies you may need
    • Gloves, lancets, bandaids, alcohol preps, glucometers, glucose strips
    • Gather table cloth, pens, screening forms, sharps container, blood pressure cuff, candy, clip boards
  • Mock setup (the first time).  Pick up any additional items you need.
  • Figure out prize for drawing…basket…$10 or under gift card
    • Create/print signage
    • Create/print drawing slips
  • Day Before
    • Remind providers/staff
    • Confirm with venue

Day of event

  • Arrive early…set up everything.
  • Wear scrubs or polo with logo.  Wear a name badge clearly representing your organization.
  • Greet participants and encourage them to engage with practice.  Tell them about the doctors (introduce if there), offer screenings, help them enter drawing.
  • Take pictures.  Get lots of staff.  It’s best to not get patient faces (so you can avoid photo releases).  Be sure to ask before you take anyone’s picture.
  • Visit with other vendors.  Talk to them about your practice and what you do.  Encourage the docs to do this, as well.  Divide and conquer. Don’t all go together.
  • If the table isn’t busy, go out and try to draw participants in.

After the event

  • Tear down and take note of anything that needs to be re-stocked.
  • Drop linens at dry cleaner
  • Notify winners and mail gift card or have them come to the corresponding office to pick up basket
  • Put all of the contact information you collected into your system for future outreach
  • Post pictures on social.  Be sure to tag venue, sponsors, whoever you worked with.
  • Drop a thank you note to the person you arranged it through and find out when their next event is taking place.

Creating Great Bios for Staff in Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Practices

When writing bios for staff of Orthopedic and Sports Medicine practices, we want to showcase that the staff is competent, knowledgeable, and friendly.

Include skills, training, education, certifications, work experience, languages, and something about why they love orthopedic and sports medicine patients.  That can be what got them interested in orthopedics, their favorite success story with a patient, or something personal that they feel comfortable sharing about their own sports experiences and how orthopedics played a role in that. 

For example, James became interested in orthopedics after a football injury in high school. The orthopedic surgeon and the rest of the team really helped John get back on the field and get back to living his life.

Some questions to get the creative process flowing:

  • Name as you’d like it listed
  • Title
  • Post-high school training and education?
  • Licenses or certifications?
  • Professional organizations that you are a member?
  • Any particular areas of clinical interest?
  • What made you want to work at this practice or with this doctor?
  • What do you love about caring for patients?
  • Is there something you wish you could tell every patient (and they would actually do) and why?
  • Do you speak any language other than English?
  • What is your favorite sport to play or watch?
  • Who is your favorite sports team?
  • What is your favorite exercise or stretch and why?

We are aiming for something like this: Meet Susan, our Orthopedic Physician Assistant. Susan joined OrthoPractice in 2009 because she had worked with Dr. Smith at the hospital and was impressed with how quickly his patients got better and his caring bedside manner. She loves helping post-operative patients get back to doing the things they love. A former college volleyball player, she also enjoys working with athletes to both prevent and treat injuries. When not at work, you can find Susan at a Texas Rangers game, spinning, or doing yoga.

Creating Great Videos for Doctors

Video is extremely valuable. It’s also expensive – production, doctor’s time, and potentially closing the office. So, let’s use this resource efficiently. The following tips are designed to help you maximize your marketing investment.

Tidy up the office. Touch up paint. Remove any signage that doesn’t look professional or friendly (and consider keeping it that way). Remove vendor brochures, prescription discount cards, and any other clutter. You want the office to look more like a spa and less like a doctor’s office.

Remove any religious or political information or anything that indicates how you sway on either of these. Marketing is done to get more patients. Personal and religious beliefs are cool…but they are also polarizing. If you want more patients, keep these things out of your video.

Only put patients in the video that have signed a release. This includes b-roll. Consider videoing at a time when no patients are in the office to be on the safe side. Bring in friends and family to be fake patients.

Explain technical terms and use language that is easily understandable. Have someone non-clinical help out with the process so they can alert you of anything that needs further explanation.

Wear a suit or pressed scrubs with a pressed clean lab coat. Really. Wrinkled scrubs or a dirty lab coat makes you look like a sloppy doctor. No one wants a sloppy doctor.

Consider professional makeup for both men and women to look better and more natural on camera. Keep your face matte and don’t wear bronzer or anything shiny.

Finally, smile and show your passion. Patients want a doctor that loves patients. Show them that through your video and try to have fun doing it!

Is there Incorrect Information about Your Practice on the Internet?

We want patients and referring offices to be able to find your medical office quickly.  It takes months and even years for online services to pick up new office locations.  We strongly recommend manually updating the following sites and profiles that are most used for locating physicians.  Add pictures, website links, and be exhaustive with information about the services provided in the practice.  List interests, clinical specialties, etc. as they will help patients find your office.  Also, be sure to list any languages that are spoken in the office, if that is an option.  Include information about the physician’s training for sites that allow it.  A short bio is also very useful.  And, pictures are highly recommended.

  • AngiesList.com
  • Bing.com
  • CareDash.com
  • CastleConnolly.com
  • ConsumerReports.com
  • Doctor.com
  • DoctorBase.com
  • DoctorScorecard.com
  • DrSocial.org
  • EHealthInsurance.com
  • EverydayHealth.com
  • Healthcare.com
  • Healthgrades.com
  • Healthline.com
  • Health.Yahoo.net
  • Manta.com
  • MedHelp.com
  • MedicineNet.com
  • Plus.Google.com                       
  • RateMDS.com
  • Righthealth.com
  • ServicesListed.org
  • UComparehealth.com
  • Vimo.com
  • Vitals.com
  • WebMD.com
  • Wellness.com
  • Wellsphere.com
  • Yellowpages.com
  • Yelp.com
  • Zocdoc.com

In addition, set up a Google alert for each physician in the office, mid-level providers, and the clinic name.   Use that to learn of any other sites that may have the practice listed incorrectly. This is also a nice way to monitor the practice’s online presence.

Need help claiming or updating your profiles? We are happy to help!