Wow, Can a Doctor Compete With Retail Health? 

COVID-19 vaccines are available at grocery stores. The flu can be diagnosed at a corner pharmacy. A late-night UTI can be treated at an urgent care.

While it's understandable that specialty and PCP providers can't match the conveniences of retail healthcare, we physicians do need to move beyond the perfunctory diagnosis and treatment routine. It behooves us to cultivate an outstanding patient experience, including offering what conveniences we can.

Conveniences contribute to a heightened patient experience because they offer something delightful and unexpected, a.k.a "wow factors." A combination of small gestures can create a wow factor, turning patients into raving fans, the kind who not only refer family and friends, but who write positive online reviews.

My tips for creating a wow experience that no grocery store can match:
  • Help patients feel the love. Say the patient's name frequently and especially at the end of an appointment. Provide ample parking or validate it. Offer comfortable furniture. Ensure the restrooms are clean.
  • Build a team of boosters. Educate staff on the fact that medical care is becoming more like retail and customers are empowered by choice. Coach your staff to be friendly and adopt a helpful attitude.
  • You call patients with negative results. Nothing comforts patients more than a phone call from their physician when lab work, pathology or surgical outcomes aren't perfect. Be a hero and offer counsel.
  • Have a staffer call patients with positive results. That’s unexpected. Plus, it feels great to be the bearer of good news.
Bottom line: The secret to creating a wow patient experience is to make small changes over time, duly incorporating them into your routine. Practice makes perfect - and makes for a more perfect practice than a big-box chain can offer.
See more practice improvement tips from Dr. Baum
Neil H. Baum, MD, is medical advisor to Vanguard Communications and author of two books: Marketing Your Clinical Practice - Ethically, Effectively, and Economically, now in its 4th edition, and The Complete Business Guide to a Successful Medical Practice.

Dr. Baum has been dubbed "Dr. Wiz" for his love of magic and his urology specialty practice. 
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