Online platforms like Yelp have led to physicians being reviewed for their services, like restaurants and bars. This article provides easy tips for physicians to improve their online reviews and patient satisfaction scores.
By Steven Gordon with contributions from FlexMedStaff
Every physician wants to be liked by their patients. And we all want better online reviews. Practicing good medicine while receiving high patient satisfaction scores is an art form. It is easy for some of us, but not all of us. This article reminds physicians of the simple things we can do during patient encounters to stand out.
The average doc interrupts the patient 17 seconds into the interview. Try asking the patient how you can help, and don’t say anything till the patient quits talking.
Then say, “So if I have this right…” and repeat what the patient said. You proved you listened.
About 10% of the time, the physical exam tells you something you didn’t expect, but it always tells the patient that you care.
A touch can go a long way. Placing your hand on a patient’s shoulder can communicate that you care about them. When you have one hand on the stethoscope, have the other hand on the shoulder. When informing your patient of the treatment options or when saying goodbye, place your hand on their shoulder. Your touch gives the message, “It’s OK; I’ve got this. You’re going to be OK.”
We learned in medicine to percuss the chest and abdomen, but over time it becomes a lost skill. Although percussion usually does not give nearly as much information as POCUS, but can help your reviews. This simple action is memorable to most patients and demonstrates that you care.
Judging comes right before shaming, and shaming rarely helps.
When it comes to addictive disorders and lifestyle problems, motivational Interviewing has taught us that we get further by asking about the patient’s agenda than we can by pushing our own. “What do you want life to look like for you in 5 years?” Followed by “How does a pack a day/3 grams a day/1.5 liters a week…fit in with that picture?” will more like bring about change than saying, “What did you think would happen?”
Calling the patients personally gives, well, the personal touch. You will be surprised to find that with a bit of practice, the average call lasts less than a few minutes and happens faster than drafting and signing a letter.
A picture is worth a thousand words. Most physicians these days work with computers with internet capability. If you have a diagnosis, pull up a picture of it and show it to the patient.
Keep away from medicalese unless the patient demonstrates familiarity with the idiom.
You can reach patients you would not have in the past if you connect with them in their own language. Clinical fluency in another language will significantly increase your patient base as well.
Everyone wants to tell their story, even doctors. But that time doesn’t add to your bottom line. Limit your narrative to family and origin, and then say, “But you’re the patient; let’s talk about you!”
But if you or a family member has been through a problem similar to the patient’s, use that information as a teaching moment.
Only express agreement if you agree. If you disagree, dodge the question or the remark. Nobody ever won an argument with a patient.
If you can’t type on the computer and make eye contact, don’t bring the computer into the exam room. Making eye contact should be the focus, not your computer. Consider adjustments to your clinic setup so that making eye contact is the priority.
Say, “Ask me questions.” After you answer, ask if you’ve responded to the question. Then say, “That was a great question! Ask another.” But if you don’t know the answer to a question, admit you don’t know.
Sadly, physicians, these days must be concerned about their online reviews. Although it’s silly that patients can rate their doctor on the same platform where they can place restaurant reviews, online reviews are here to stay. We, as physicians, must know that our words and actions can drive a great online review. Take the time to consider some of the tips discussed here to improve your patient reviews.
***Steven Gordon is a family medicine physician who blogs at Walkaboutdoc, sharing his experiences of practicing medicine and traveling with his wife. He can be reached on LinkedIn.