When I was in elementary school, I was a Girl Scout, and one of the songs we learned to sing was done in rounds:
Make new friends and keep the old,
One is silver and the other gold.
No matter how many years (or generations!) later, that little song carries a world of truth and rings as true today as when it was created. That’s a fact when dealing with any of the truths of life, such as the Golden Rules.
While we know this to be true, at times our actions do not reflect what we know. In a practice there is always a push or focus on attracting new patients. Of course this is necessary in order for the practice to thrive. At the same time, relationships go through stages from courting or wooing to stability and possibly deterioration through entropy. What do I mean by that? In a nutshell, when relationships begin, everything is wonderful and exciting, and as time goes on the “glow” is gone and we become accustomed to people, nothing’s new and exciting anymore, and we tend to take the relationships for granted.
Entropy is a natural law of the universe. An overly simplified explanation of entropy is that when things are left alone, they deteriorate. For example, an abandoned house eventually falls apart. The only thing that scientists have found that intervenes with entropy is a conscious being! If someone pays attention and makes repairs, a house can last for many generations.
The same principle applies to relationships: it takes a conscious being to keep love alive!
The best source of referrals to a practice is the current patient base. You will lose the opportunity to leverage this population if you ignore the law of entropy. You have to nurture the relationship and “woo” the existing patients just like your new ones. Every time they come to the practice they should feel validated for choosing your practice.
How to do you do that? For starters, make sure you smile and greet each patient by name and use their name again when they leave. Be genuinely glad to see them. Keep notes in the chart about their personal lives so that the next person who treats them can follow up on the conversation. Every time the patient comes in, find something to compliment them on, with a focus on how he/she is following treatment instructions. Even if it isn’t 100% perfect, point out where you notice improvement. Send a note to the patient to positively acknowledge him/her for something that happened during the visit, even if only to say “It was great seeing you today…thank you for being a great patient!”
That personal touch truly makes a difference. People want to be known and appreciated.
Keep focused on showing appreciation and acknowledgment of your patients, and you will turn “silver” friends into gold!
As a consultant, executive coach and professional speaker, Joan Garbo has led more than 2,000 seminars and has trained hundreds of healthcare professionals in effective communication, customer service, team-building, leadership skills and other topics that enable individuals to live life more fully and accomplish their goals. JoanGarbo.com