A friend of mine provided this first-person experience and the reasons he fired his healthcare practitioner.

“The practitioner that I had been seeing was leaving the practice, and an alternative practitioner was recommended. Two weeks later I was present for an appointment…the second patient to be seen that morning. I was shown to an exam room by an assistant who took some minor notes and left me to wait for the practitioner.”

“After about 15 minutes alone, I asked the receptionist about the delay. ‘She’s coming,’ I was told, so I was willing to be patient. At the 30-minute mark, I looked to the receptionist for an explanation and perhaps a small apology. Instead, the receptionist just laughed and excused it all by saying: ‘Oh, the practitioner is always late.’ I replied that being late, with no concern for other patients, was rude at best and that patients should not be an interruption. After 40 minutes of wait time alone in the exam room, I left and made an appointment with another healthcare practice up the street.”

Fire the Practitioner or Fix the Problem…

Studies reveal that an extended wait draws down on patient satisfaction and increases the likelihood of a poor-to-bad rating. Consequently, one patient “fires the practitioner,” never to return. Plus, online reviews and comments drive prospective patients to competitive practices.

Additionally, patients are likely to feel that long waiting periods mean:

  • A practitioner who can’t manage the clock can’t manage a patient’s health
  • The practitioner doesn’t respect the patient or the patient’s time
  • This and other aspects of the practice are poorly managed
  • It’s permissible to waste patients’ time

Perhaps it’s surprising, but most patient dissatisfaction (about 96 percent in one study) cited poor communications, wait times and disorganised practices.

Several simple steps probably could have saved the day:

An explanation (almost any explanation) for the patient. The patient was expected to wait (alone) for the practitioner without being offered a reason for the delay or an alternative. To explain, “Oh, she’s always late,” implies that the practitioner is rude to everyone. Pointing blame signals & poor staff training.

An apology from the practitioner. Any extended delay erodes the practitioner/patient relationship. In this instance, a simple, brief “sorry” from practitioner to patient would have erased a lot of bad feelings. And, if the delay was to continue, perhaps a few words would win understanding, forgiveness and even more time.

This particular practitioner lost at least one patient in this encounter. The extended delay might have been for a good and valid reason, or perhaps the practitioner and/or staff are muddled or inept. I don’t know. But bad reviews and driving patients to the competition, are rarely about clinical skills. Problems like this are easily avoided or easily cured.