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    How to keep your patients from switching physicians

    A quarter of patients are likely to switch physicians if they find a doctor with a more positive attitude—just one of the multitude of reasons that patients give for making a change, according to a new study from Weatherby Healthcare.

     

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    Though 49% of patients stay with their doctor for five years or more—often due to comfort and familiarity—patients are sometimes compelled to switch providers.

    “A positive attitude goes far,” Bill Heller, Weatherby Healthcare’s president, says. “We also saw a big dissatisfier continues to be time wasted in the waiting room. That can drive someone to leave.”

    Other variables that the study revealed could drive someone away were cost, bedside manner and the design and comfort of a facility—with almost 80% of respondents mentioning the latter as a reason people leave.

    “There are things doctors can improve upon when patients come into their facility and change the quality,” Heller says. “A lot of doctors are averse to technology, but they can embrace it and improve the experience. Doctors can also be more mindful of overbooking to reduce the wait times.”

    Another thing doctors can do to keep their current patients happy is to take a page from the hospitality space, and make the office inviting.

    Floyd Russak, MD, Greenwood Village, Colorado, notes even the cheapest hotels update their facility every seven years and a physician should be mindful of how his or her office looks.

    “If your office looks like something from the ’60’s or ’70s, it’s a turnoff, especially for younger patients,” he says. “Spend 10% of your salary every 10 years to update it.”

     

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    Honore Lansen, MD, a New York City-based primary care physician with One Medical, says when patients tell her that they’ve left a prior provider, they usually explain it’s because it wasn’t the right fit.

    “As with any close relationship, a patient wants to feel supported by her doctor, to feel understood and advocated for,” she says. “She wants to know that his or her doctor really cares, and will do everything necessary to promote good health. If a patient feels that the provider is disingenuous or inauthentic, he or she will have trouble believing that her doctor is truly invested in her well-being.”

    Next: Level of doctor's positivity does matter

    Keith Loria
    Keith Loria is a contributing writer to Medical Economics.

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