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While it’s been reported that there might be a shortage of physicians in the coming years I believe that higher co-pays coupled with increases in health insurance costs could have a significant impact on the way patients use their healthcare. I believe that patients are going to want to have more of a voice in treatment options and where/who see for treatments. Physicians have to become more patient friendly if they want to continue to add patients to their practice.
Consumers of healthcare. What does that mean ? It means that patients are becoming more choosey in where they go for treatment and, in some cases, who they see. They don’t want to be treated like just another “patient” they want to be seen as a person and more importantly they want physicians to listen to them and address their concerns. But in an era when doctors have to see more patients to make their practices profitable what is a physician to do ?
(1) Allow patients to make/change appointments online. It’s about convenience and right now most of your patients don’t have the luxury of time when they are working more hours.
(2) Always address a patient by their first names when you meet them. You would be surprised how far that can go to get patients more comfortable with you.
(3) Read the patients medical history before meeting them. One of the worst experiences is having a physician review your medical history when you are trying to talk to them about why you are there.
(4) In some cases, when a patients is really sick or has some serious medical issues, you might want to consider allowing time to call the patient at home to ensure he/she is doing OK. It’s a little thing that goes a long way to show you care and can make a patient a lifetime customer.
(5) Understand that patients want clear and concise answers to their health problems and concerns. You spent a lot of time in medical school but your patients did not.
(6) Health today is about a patient/physician relationship not about “do what I tell you to do and take what I prescribe”. There is a good chance that what you prescribe is going to be researched online by the patient and if he/she doesn’t like what they read they might not take the medication and this outcomes could be in question.
Patients are consumers and consumers are sick and tired of being told what to do. They want power over what goes in their body and they don’t want to make sacrifices when it comes to quality of life issues.