WHAT SOME DOCTORS LEARNED As a Result of COVID-19: When A Doctor Goes “Radio Silent” Patients Wonder Why and Leave the Practice.
“Dear Doctors, ‘Do Good, For Goodness Sake'”
By Michael Tetreault, Editor-in-Chief, The DPC Journal and Concierge Medicine Today
Admittedly, this is a really odd question to ask, we know. However, when we posed this question years ago to both Patients and Doctors, we did so under the presumption that knowing the answer to this question will help guide our thinking about the way Patients [eg., the Customer] inside a membership medicine, DPC, concierge medicine or the like model feels about their Doctor, or the traditional, plan-reimbursed Physician they are leaving to now find a Concierge Doctor and even a Direct Primary Care (DPC) Physician program.
Please understand, I want Doctors to have so much value in our local communities that if one day, or someday the decision was made to close the practice, that the community, the Patients, the Mayor, the City Council and business owners alike would rally together to help “save this business” or “Keep this Doctor open.”
The problem with many medical offices today is that if they closed down tomorrow, the community wouldn’t know it and dare we say, care. Sure, a handful, maybe even a few dozen would voice their complaints, perhaps call the state Board of Medical Examiners and say this isn’t right … but in a few weeks or months, those Patients and others will be frequenting the exam rooms of other Doctors “on their plan.”
Sure, there’s always more complexity to stories and “closing up shop” than this, perhaps legalities as well. But the whole purpose behind asking this question is to address the idea that “No, you can’t leave! We need you as our Doctor here! Please, don’t close!”
When was the last time we saw this happen?
As we discussed at the 2019 Concierge Medicine FORUM last October and again in 2018, Doctors today have a “typecast”. I’m not only talking about DPC or Concierge Doctors either. Primary Care Physicians, Family Medicine Doctors, Specialists, all of the above, you all like it or not are in a profession typecast by your service, or, lack thereof. Did you know most Patients leave a Doctors office seeking council and medical advice of other Physicians because 1) Patients don’t feel listened to by their Doctor; 2) Your Staff; and 3) Lack of Relationship.
Jeff Henderson, author of the book Know What You’re FOR illustrates this quite well when he writes “If the ultimate goal is staying in business, you won’t. The Havas Group noted ‘The world is looking for organizations that are making our lives better and making the world a better place to live.'”
I absolutely love that point. It’s not about being the best Doctor in the World anymore. It is about being the Best Doctor FOR the World you and I live in.
In no other profession can a mere five words from a Physician mean so much to us as your Patient/Customer. In other professions and businesses, we need fifty words but if you’re a Doctor, people listen to you! You have incredible impact on our lives and not only that, our families too.
So how do we connect the two and build a bridge across the gap of Patient Expectations and Physician influence?
I’m glad you’re thinking this way. Henderson presents with an example in one simple sentence: “You can’t just talk about being FOR people; you have to show it.”
Instead of being all about pricing, focus on purpose. Meaning, if I’m your Patient (new or existing), lets have a conversation that lasts longer than 10-15 minutes. Maybe it’s texting me back personally vs. having your staff call me with the next appointment date. Maybe it’s not telling a patient they have to go see a specialist because you don’t want to listen or have time to address the issue.
Doctors can do better than this. I know because I’ve experienced it. I know, because thousands of people have told me that their DPC and/or Concierge Medicine Physician has shown kindness to them when others with the same degree in medicine have not. Remember, “You can’t just talk about being FOR people; you have to show it.”
In today’s hyper-cynical, critical world, Patients, dare we say Customers, are waiting, watching and looking for ways to reward the Doctors in their lives that actually “show” and “do” just this.