Who are you? And who should you be? Your patients increasingly want to know. I recently had a very interesting new patient; very apprehensive, but enthusiastic, young, highly educated and a prior patient of chiropractic care.
When I asked her what she thought about our office, a story unfolded.
First, she got our name from a local listing online and then she “Googled” me. Consumers are increasingly using Google (or another search engine) to find out more about many of their professional contacts. This is especially true with the more upscale clientele. After Googling me, she went to my Web site, and finally visited my chiropractic college Web site.
At our initial meeting, we chatted about her job – she is a drug researcher, of all things. (That really fascinated me because she did not want to take any medications.) We also spoke about her recent 10-day trip on a beach in South America, and then we just chatted for two to three minutes about her past doctor experiences.
That, of course, is why she was checking us out before deciding if we were a “fit.” We finally were laughing together and she completely relaxed; her entire physiology changed. I commended her for going through her investigation and promised I would do all I could to help her, starting that day!
This scenario (potential patients investigating their professional prospects online) is being played out more and more, but many docs are oblivious to it. We all need to realize that things have changed and patients have got ten much savvier. There are several lessons here:
- Make sure you have a Web site, and ensure it is up to date. If the patient mentioned above looked for your Web site and found you had none, you would be out of luck at that point. These ever-increasing savvy prospects want to check out your Web site. So, not only should you have a site, but it also better be modern and totally professional in appearance. It is relatively inexpensive to acquire a good-looking site these days. There is no excuse for not having one.
- Put your complete bio and list of accomplishments online. Don’t make your potential patients hunt for your credentials. Make it easy for them.
- Google yourself! See what comes up, and correct any inaccuracies at the source. If you have an up-to-date Web site, that should be the first (or at least one of the first) site that pops up when you are Googled. If your site puts your best foot forward, the good impressions will start immediately, which is invaluable.
- Make sure your systems are modern, too, starting with your front-desk and intake procedures. There is nothing worse than a potential patient coming away with the impression that your “office is really old-school, very old-fashioned.” Unless you are winding down your practice, you do not want to give the impression of a stodgy practice, with old tables coming apart at the seams. Practices giving this appearance will find it more and more difficult to thrive.
- Make the best use of technology in your office. That is what many patients now expect, especially in areas with big cities or medical centers. Do you need to spend $100,000 on a space-age-looking decompression table? No. But you do need to give the appearance of a high-technology outfit. It does make a difference.
- Be human, not a stuffed shirt, in the first patient meeting. It might not be fair, but everything that happens on the very first encounter – indeed, within the first four minutes – will determine whether the patient accepts your message. If your receptionist doesn’t greet the potential patient with a smile and friendly demeanor, that sets things off in a 180-degree-opposite direction than the initial process should. Do not forget that your staff can make or break you.
Patients are looking for well-rounded human beings. The key to a fun practice: Creative energy equals a good time for all! It never visits you while fully engaged in the routines of practice. I find it only visits after complete relaxation, and then either by divine inspiration or introspection. For me, it comes while on the water, motorcycling or carving down a mountain on skis. What is it for you? Whatever does it for you, make sure to engage in it regularly!
The lesson here: My best advice is always being 100 percent transparent with your patients. Your true intentions will be felt by everyone around you. Find your purpose and latch on to it. Patients do not want stuffed shirts for their doctors anymore! And you will spend much more time enjoying not only a rich personal life, but also your practice. Be who you are. Your staff and patients will appreciate and pick up on your true intentions and message.