A brief and timely personal note is a highly effective technique to help healthcare professionals
inspire patient satisfaction.
We are bombarded daily with electronically conveyed messages; email, television and radio broadcast and even computerised billboards. There’s a generation of young people who text friends more frequently than using the phone. But a handwritten note has become a novel, and therefore a distinctively powerful method of communication. It tells the recipient that you thought about them following your encounter. It says you value them and allows you to reinforce the points discussed.
How notes can have an empowering impact on patients.
- To whom should you write? I suggest writing to express acknowledgment, thanks, appreciation and congratulations.
- How do you remember to whom you will write? The best way to remember is to write yourself a note to record names and reminders. Simply write the names of patients/referrers to write and record a key word(s) to jog your memory.
- How long should your note be? Brief is best. A long letter may be skimmed over by busy people. But a concise and timely note is more likely to be seen and read.
I recommend brevity and relevance. Don’t ramble. Be personal and sincere. The best style is a simple, conversational manner. Unless you are generally a formal person, avoid formalities such as, “It was indeed a pleasure to have cared for you.”
- What should the content of your note include?You want to immediately grab the attention of your patient. I suggest that the first sentence give the reason for your note, for example “The purpose of this note is…” or “I just wanted to say thank you for being my patient…” followed by the specific context. Write your notes in any style that’s comfortable for you.
- Why is timing important? Immediate notes have greater impact. Consider the difference between a note arriving a day or two after you communicated with someone versus a note arriving weeks or months later. If you’re serious about incorporating note writing in your daily clinic routine, give it priority and make time for it daily.
- Why are timely notes important? Social psychologists report that written communication is one of the best ways to enhance a relationship. Everyone enjoys receiving mail, and a timely, appreciative note can be read and savoured for a long time.
I believe that the few minutes you take each day to write a note of thanks or acknowledgment is an investment in your business/your professional practice. Networking is predicted to be the contact sport for the new Millennium.