Paul M. Stubenbordt focuses his blog on what steps a practice can take to optimize traditional and Internet marketing, public relations, social media as well as non-traditional marketing tactics that can help maximize your current practice development program.

BLOG: Internal marketing — Maximizing your patient waiting room

Once you’ve created a phone system that ensures your office is presenting a positive first impression, the next step toward improving your internal marketing is to focus on converting your waiting room into a reception area because who likes to wait.

Try this experiment

Visit your practice as an outsider. As you step into the waiting area, what are your impressions? Do you feel comfortable? Do you feel welcomed? What do you hear and see? Consider the information you have available on your website or that is sent out following a phone call. Would you already be well-informed about your practice and services by now? Is there anything in your reception area that could help improve understanding?

You may have already considered or be using posters or looping educational DVDs in your waiting room area to help educate patients. While these are a good start to maximizing your practice’s internal marketing efforts, you can make a much bigger impact by thinking in terms of creating a positive experience for your patients beginning the moment they walk in the door.

Transition from dreaded doctor visit to enhanced experience

Does your clinic still look, well, clinical? There is nothing wrong with not looking like a traditional office. Many baby boomers are visiting plastic surgery offices that look like the Ritz-Carlton, and you know what, they like it! Providing simple things for free, such as Internet access, simple snacks, coffee and tea options, or bottled water, can also help enhance the experience by inviting your patients to relax.

Rather than hiring staff based on their experience in the industry, you should consider hiring staff with a greater emphasis on personality. A personable staff member will be much more likely to greet your patients with a genuine smile and involve themselves more in ensuring the patient and their family or loved ones are comfortable and cared for.

Take it to the next level

There is a practice I visited once that had the happiest patients around. On surgery day, this office would send the family home with dinner from one of the local restaurants. It could be BBQ, fried chicken or soup. Yes, I gave it away, this practice is in the south! But by providing food for the patients undergoing surgery that day, it helped take stress off of the family and the patient, and this did one huge thing for the practice — it brought in a ton of patient referrals! I’m not absolutely sure, but I think this doctor has been branded as the chicken doctor vs. state-of-the-art. But it just shows that experience and technology (given the patient has a good result) aren’t the only things that matter when it comes to patient satisfaction.

Education should be the focus

Education of your staff is paramount because they will be the primary contact between you and your patient. Every member of your staff should be aware of what to say (and what not to say) about the various services you offer. This can be accomplished by providing the staff with a simple list of frequently asked questions along with their answers. After a suitable period of time for your staff to study and understand these questions and answers, hold a staff meeting to provide your staff with the opportunity to ask for further clarification or additional information.

To help educate your patients further on the various services you offer, you can also set up digital photo frames that provide information about various procedures, success stories and previous patient testimonials.