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    Set the example for patient service

    Thomas J. Ferkovic
    Q: It used to be that good medicine made a practice successful, but competition seems to have added more variables to the mix. What can we do to ensure that our patients receive high-quality medical care and service?

    A: Not that long ago, patients would simply choose a doctor from a list at a local hospital or from their insurance carriers. But times have changed in this era of pervasive social media. Today's patients use Craigslist, Angie's List, and Facebook for recommendations, and they scour the Web to investigate your quality as measured by public opinion, not just clinical efficacy.

    Although many private practices provide high-quality medical care, often they can't say the same for their level of patient service. Today's patients are choosy not just about their medical care, but about how they are treated before, during, and after an office visit. As the physician, you must lead by example when it comes to providing quality service. You set the standard for your staff.

    With that thought in mind, the ability to deliver high-quality service must be something you consider as early as when you interview a candidate for a staff position. Ask yourself whether you believe the person would be able to provide a high level of consistent, attentive service for the patients in your practice. If not, then move on to another applicant.

    As for your current staff members, compliment them regularly for patient service successes and proactively counsel them on ways they can improve service on a day-to-day basis. Successful medical offices not only provide access to healthcare through easily scheduled appointments and advice over the phone; they also deliver care and attention from a physician and staff members who are genuinely kind and understanding.

    So yes, patients want the gold standard of healthcare and medical services. But they also want someone to really listen, show them respect, and not rush them through a visit or call. To patients, quality is ease of appointment scheduling, a friendly staff, a clean office, an on-time appointment, and an attentive doctor.

    Answers to our readers' questions were provided by Thomas J. Ferkovic, RPh, MS, managing director, SS&G Healthcare Services LLC. Send your money management questions to
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