How Patients Choose

How Patients Choose a Provider and What This Means for Providers

Having and maintaining our health is a top priority.  We try to eat right, exercise often, sleep enough and do things we enjoy.  Sometimes, no matter what we do, we get sick or hurt, and we need to find a healthcare provider.  This can be tricky for someone who is in general good health and hasn’t had to see many doctors.  After thanking your lucky stars that you don’t have a long list of previously seen providers, how do you start the process of finding a provider?

Talking with people who can recommend a provider is always a good place to start.  Ask a respected and trusted family member or friend if they know a doctor who can help you.  It is also helpful to ask if your family or friends have had a bad experience with a provider.  This information is just as important to know. Their direct interaction with that recommended physician is a firsthand “review”, and this information is usually very reliable.

What this means for providers:  Treat all of your patients with kindness, patience, professionalism and compassion.  In most situations, the reason a patient has come to see you is because they aren’t feeling well.  They don’t want to be there.  They aren’t at their best.  They have reached the point where they need to feel better.  With this in mind, show your patients grace.  And know that this will pay off because your patient will come back to see you and will tell their friends and family why.  You are growing untold future patient possibilities because your happy patients will let others know how happy they are with the care you provide to them.

Doctors have a variety of specialties and expertise.  Why wouldn’t you want to be cared for by a doctor who has been trained to treat your specific medical condition?  And wouldn’t you want that physician to have treated many patients with a similar condition?  When you want to learn to play the piano, you want to be taught by someone who was trained for many years to play the piano.  Sure, someone who knows how to play the guitar can teach you a few things, but the trained piano player is specifically qualified to teach you piano.

What this means for providers:  Become an expert in your field.  Do your best to stay up to date on the most recent developments in your specialty.  Continue to learn about what’s happening in your field, and then share what you know with others.  This can mean writing blog posts for your practice website or social media or reaching out to community groups or the media to become a resource for them.

Asking your primary care doctor for a recommendation is also a good idea.  You should trust your primary care doctor, and if you don’t, you should find another.  Your doctor should be your partner in your lifelong health.  And because you trust your doctor, she is a good resource for all things medical.  She should be willing to help you with a recommendation or direct you to someone who can.  And because doctors interact with lots of other doctors, either directly or indirectly with hearsay from other doctors, they can be an excellent resource.

What this means for providers:  Nurture your relationships with other doctors.  Keep in touch with them.  Visit, call and email them a few times a year to check in.  Find out if there is anything your office can do to help their office whether that be with referrals or anything else. Send them a thank you note or small thank you gift for their support throughout the year.  The Thanksgiving time of year is a good time to show your thanks.  Think about what you would like a doctor to do for you and then offer to do it for that doctor.  Even a small gesture can make you stand out from the crowd and help your name come to mind when a doctor needs to make a recommendation. 

As a patient, you want to feel welcomed and appreciated.  You want to feel like you matter and that a provider wants your business.  And indirectly, these feelings translate to a feeling that your care matters to the doctor, too.  And while this may seem like a minor detail, it’s a big deal to patients for good reason.

What this means for providers:  Simply said, be nice.  Treat your patients like family and they will remain loyal to you and share their loyalty with others.  This also applies to ALL of your staff.  You could be the nicest person ever to your patients, but if your front office staff is rude or even indifferent, your kindness can be canceled out.  The entire patient experience in your office, from the parking lot to the check in desk to the actual appointment to the check out desk, needs to be compassionate, kind, friendly and attentive.

Knowing if a provider is covered under your insurance plan is important information.  Unfortunately, this is the reality of our current healthcare system and could be a factor in your decision to see a particular doctor.  This is especially important for major medical issues that can be costly.  Some patients, however, may be willing to pay out of pocket for smaller issues like physical therapy visits.

What this means for providers:  Share the insurance plans you accept on your website, in your office and any other place that would be helpful for patients.  And while this info can change, it’s important to keep this information updated for your patient’s sake.  For cash patients, offer reasonable out of pocket pricing and payment plans.  Not all patients can afford expensive care, but all of them want to feel better.  What can you do to make that happen for them?

How a provider engages with you during a visit is critical.  Yes, she should be welcoming and kind, but does she actually listen to you during the appointment?  Does she take her time or does it feel like she’s in a hurry?  Does she ask questions to truly get to the reason for appointment?  Is she patient with explanations and willing to repeat them?  Does she take an overall interest in your life because something that seems unrelated may be contributing to the health issue?

What this means for providers:  We all know a provider’s time is valuable and has lots of demands, but perhaps a bit more time with a patient will prevent a future appointment or a future phone call or email because their issue will be better addressed in the initial visit.  Time invested on the front end will likely mean less time needed later.  A great question a doctor can ask a patient at the end of an appointment — “Is there anything else I can do for you?”  If you have effectively addressed the patient’s needs, he is most likely going to say, “No, thank you”.   Not only are these nine words a great way for you to assess how you did in that appointment, they can also make a patient feel like they had some control of that time and the doctor was genuinely interested and responsive to what they needed.

Medical and Surgical Clinic of Irving Welcomes New OB/GYN Specialist Beltran

Frans Beltran, MD, joins Irving clinic and rounds out clinic’s specialties with OB/GYN services.

The Medical and Surgical Clinic of Irving has served the Irving, TX area for decades now, and the team of medical professionals constantly strives to deliver a wide range of services to meet the needs of the community. As part of this commitment to the community’s health, the Irving clinic is pleased to announce the addition of Dr. Frans Beltran to the team of medical providers. Dr. Beltran will serve as the clinic’s obstetrician and gynecologist (OB/GYN).

Dr. Beltran is currently scheduling patients and will begin seeing patients on September 5, 2017. To schedule an appointment with Irving’s newest OB/GYN, patients can call her directly at (972) 253-2530. Her office is located at 2021 N. MacArthur Blvd. Suite 300, Irving, TX 75061.

Dr. Beltran received her undergraduate degree from Columbia University and then received her doctor of medicine from Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She received her OB/GYN training from Pennsylvania State University at the Hershey Medical Center. While attending university, she was named on the Dean’s Honor List for all four years and was a Howard Hughes Fellow. She also received a special grant for her research while she trained to be an obstetrician and gynecologist.

While Irving might be quite a distance from Hershey, Pennsylvania, Dr. Beltran is excited to be a part of the North Texas community. As MSCI’s OB/GYN, Dr. Beltran will help women of all ages enjoy better health. To help better connect with patients, Dr. Beltran is fluent in Spanish.

“We are excited to offer the residents of Irving and the surrounding area an excellent choice for their OB/GYN needs,” said Roy Rochon, president of the Medical and Surgical Clinic of Irving.

Healthcare Associates of Texas to Use BioFire – A Revolutionary Molecular Diagnostic Technology

Healthcare Associates adopts BioFire’s Film Array System to quickly diagnosis and treat disease states among patients.

Healthcare Associates of Texas has recently implemented an updated, molecular laboratory instrument to diagnose certain dangerous diseases faster.  The FilmArray system, is able to detect multiple organisms that cause infections such as gastrointestinal disease, respiratory disease, bloodstream infections, and sepsis in a single test.  HCAT now has the ability to get results in about an hour to diagnose and treat disease states as quickly as possible.  Current testing methods in most hospitals could take days to get results.  Healthcare Associates of Texas is the first outpatient primary care clinic in the southern United States to have this technology which was previously available in only a few advanced hospitals.

“The FilmArray System allows our lab professionals to manage all aspects of the testing process onsite, from sample preparation and DNA extraction to amplification and detection,” says Dr. Charles Powell, Executive Vice President of Clinical Operations.  “This technology will enable our clinicians to treat disease states much earlier than ever before—giving us results in about one hour, versus one to three days for samples sent to reference labs.”

Healthcare Associates of Texas will be using the FilmArray System to rapidly detect the DNA of pathogens of life-threatening disease states that continue to plague the U.S. healthcare system.  One FilmArray test available is the GI panel that identifies 22 disease targets for bacterial, viral and parasitic gastroenteritis infections contracted through eating, swimming or other exposure routes. Another is the RP panel that identifies 20 viral and bacterial respiratory pathogens including Pertussis.

Testing for disease state pathogens allows for early treatment, as well as proactively protects its spread among patients and in the community.

“Healthcare Associates of Texas is committed to adopting the most effective practices to prevent the spread of infection through comprehensive testing to diagnosis of disease states earlier and improve patient care,” says Dr. Powell.  “Having accurate and comprehensive test results in one hour enables physicians to immediately prescribe treatment protocols that target the specific infections, rather than administering a wide-spectrum antibiotic which may not be necessary.  We treat our patients like family.  Who wouldn’t want the most specific, appropriate, and timely care for their family?”


What Are Patients Saying About You And Does It Matter?

A patient walks into a doctor’s office . . . While that may sound like the beginning of a comedy routine, it’s actually when patient first impressions are created.  Patients expect a great experience overall so the front desk, the nursing staff, the doctor, the facility, the billing department, even the parking lot – all contribute to a patient’s perspective of a practice.  But why does that matter?

More and more, patients are sharing their first impressions through online reviews.  With a few words and the choice of a number or star, those thoughts are multiplied and spread exponentially on the internet.  Whether right or wrong, human nature is persuaded by others, even if there is no supporting evidence.

Online patient reviews are growing in popularity and impact.  Not only are more patients going online to post about their experiences, but they are also using online feedback to inform their decisions about who will win their healthcare business.

In a 2014 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, two-thirds of Americans surveyed knew health reviews were available to them online.  About 25% of them used these sites for research. Of those who used the sites, 35% chose a doctor because of a rating.  The reverse was also true as 37% didn’t choose a doctor because of a bad rating.  And in some situations, patients will even choose an out-of-network doctor if that review is better than an in-network doctor’s.

Many surveys support these findings, reiterating that, now more than ever, patient reviews are increasingly impacting where patients go for care.  The shared feedback can be online through patient review sites like Google, Yelp, Vitals and Healthgrades.  Patients will also share their experience via word of mouth or on their personal social media in a recommendation.  No matter the method, it is in a doctor’s best interest to provide the best patient experience possible at all levels.

In addition, search engine optimization (SEO) experts agree that user-generated content like patient online reviews is heavily weighted by search engines.  In other words, reviews provide a first impression online when someone types a doctor’s name into the search field in Google or another search engine.

While positive online reviews can drive business, negative reviews can be tricky.  An occasional bad review is not a death sentence.  It can reveal human error or a possible bad day.  In fact, having a less than stellar review on occasion shows the doctor isn’t too good to be true and provides legitimacy to all reviews, even the good ones.

An unexpected bonus of a bad review can be an opportunity, at no charge, to learn about possible areas of improvement.  Sometimes improvement is as simple as a difference in perception – what a doctor thinks a patient is experiencing versus what the patient is actually experiencing.  With a few tweaks, problems can be solved and eventually averted, but this can’t happen unless the feedback is heard.

Furthermore, how a doctor reacts to a bad review is critical.  A prompt, calm, friendly response, respecting HIPAA privacy protocol, can make all the difference.  The majority of patients do not expect provider perfection, but provider honesty, transparency and interest in making things right.  In fact, most respondents feel it’s important for doctors to respond in some way to the bad review.  Silence can be viewed as possible wrongdoing or not caring.

Like never before, the success of a practice is at stake with patient reviews, good and bad, and how they are shared.  Every component of a doctor’s office should shine, inspiring a patient to post the best review and highest rating possible.  And while patient satisfaction is good for the bottom line, this should not be the only gauge for evaluating healthcare quality.  Patient satisfaction is just one component, but critical to the success of a practice.  Recognizing the importance of online patient reviews is the first step in creating a positive patient experience.  The next step is managing those reviews and finding the tools to do that.  Stay tuned for our follow up post addressing this.