Patients are voicing complaints about their less than stellar experiences at medical offices online more than ever these days. Most of these complaints are not directed at the medical expertise of the physicians but rather at their poor bedside manner, indifference, and poor customer service by their staffs.
We decided to open a practice that was built upon a concierge-model that affords us the ability to treat our patients while also catering to needs that are not being met by the traditional insurance-based practices. We have time to spend with them, not only to diagnose but to be proactive, time to get to know them and to educate them. We hire staff with medical backgrounds but that are also trained in hospitality and have an interest in making the experience at Obsidian the best it can be.
Many physicians scoff at their poor ratings, feeling they shouldn't receive negative marks because of their personality or interpersonal skills but should instead be judged on their medical knowledge and performance. They also lament the fact that patients are unaware of the many pressures that they face in a health care system that gets more complicated by the day.
As a urologist in practice for over ten years, I have a few thoughts on this subject.
Firstly, we should all expect that a physician be skilled and competent at a minimum. If a physician cannot maintain a level of excellence in their field then they should strongly consider another profession. Physicians should not expect a rave review about being a "smart" doctor because we are supposed to be smart! Furthermore, how is a patient supposed to judge the medical skill level of a physician without a medical background of their own to analyze those skills? The answer is they can't.
A good physician is more than just a person with medical knowledge who can diagnose problems; a compassionate bedside manner is an integral part of the equation. Frankly, many people can diagnose medical conditions these days on their own by spending a few minutes on Google or WebMD. A caring bedside manner is just as important as medical skill when it comes to taking care of the sick. If a physician displays a poor bedside manner they deserve a bad review and perhaps they should consider an alternative field such as pathology where a good bedside manner is not required.
Lastly, hiring staff with good customer service skills can be difficult at times due to financial pressures or other factors. However, staff members are a reflection of the principles by which a business operates. If a medical practice values good customer service they will strive to find and train staff to deliver heroic customer service to their patients. Physicians should want their patients treated with the utmost courtesy and respect. After all, doctors are given a license to practice medicine by their respective state medical board. It is a privilege, NOT a right granted to us because we graduated medical school.
My partner and I opened Obsidian Men's Health because we listened to many of the complaints that patients expressed online and we thought we could create a decidedly better experience. We created a medical practice where patients would undeniably realize that we are humbled and privileged to provide them with healthcare at the highest level of excellence.
Posted on Thu, March 20, 2014
by Marc Richman, M.D. filed under