Misunderstanding What Patients Want

Misunderstandings and miscommunication are bound to happen with patients, but it’s how you handle them that’s important. No matter who’s at fault, these are the three areas you should address when clearing up a problem with your patient.

Strategize the best and lowest cost options before going to the patient. Normally I would say brainstorm this with your team. You must come up with some solutions or at least actions that will get you and the patient down the road to a “fix” of whatever the complication or miscommunication is. Think them through – especially from the perspective the “at fault” party, if there is one. Is cost a necessary consideration? How should that be handled? Prepare some options before going to the patient to discuss.

Discuss options with the patient. These options you come up with may solve the problem or they may not. At the very least they will probably serve as a good steppingstone and an opening up of the communication lines to get progress made on whatever the problem is.

Consider a refund or partial refund. If you can do some future treatment for free in the face of mistakes, that is a good way to go. If the mistake is due to your oversight and is the clinic’s fault, then it goes without saying that the treatment to rectify the mistake is going to have to be free. If the patient does not want any future free treatment a partial or even a full refund will be a nice way to end the matter.

Mistakes happen in any practice. It’s what you do with them and how you respond to them that likely define the rest of the patient relationship. Good luck!

• Underestimating the competition
• Inadequate financial planning
• Lack of strong leadership
• Ineffective procedures and systems
• Absence of critical business skills
• Inability to change
• Failure to communicate the plan to your staff (clinicians & reception staff)

Over the next few weeks will ‘dive deeper’ into each of the above.