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Mark Hinton

Show Patients Gratitude: Use Their Preferred Name

Connecting personally shows gratitude for their presence in your office and makes patients feel special.

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“No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” – Theodore Roosevelt

STOP A MOMENT and reflect on your typical day filled with the routine ways we go through or communicate our patient processes. Our patients who are people from all walks of life with needs and wants; humans who are emotional.

In my travels on-site at hundreds of practices, I often observe that we talk at our patients.

You can differentiate your office and team from others by not being one of those practices.

A simple way of doing that is learning their preferred name. When we don’t use our patient’s preferred name, we disconnect with them. Though a few people do want to be formal, formal is transactional. Most people being social want to connect using their preferred name, which may be a nickname.

Using the patient’s preferred name is the way to connect personally and demonstrates a type of gratitude. Why? Because it suggests that we care beyond the typical or average.

Today, in our healthcare system (or what I prefer to call our “Disease Management System”) patients are herded by DOB, patient number or telephone number, none of which show gratitude to our patient. Gratitude includes helping, assisting, asking, smiling, caring about individuals with empathy and compassion. What is more caring and compassionate then learning and using their name?

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If you’re from the south, you probably cringed when I said get personal and ask for their preferred name. You were likely raised to use “ma’am” and “sir,” and you can feel the phantom slap across your face from your mama when you use Ms…, Mrs…, or Mr. Formal Name. The simple fact is, respect is calling your patient what they want to be called and not what your mama told you to do as a child. You’re an adult now; asking for and using a patient’s preferred name shows respect and gratitude. You just might connect on an authentic level as well.

When we answer the phone in our office we greet with: “Thank you for choosing Envision Eye Care, My name is Mark, may I ask yours?” Bingo! Connected! Our patients appreciate it and typically provide us with their preferred name [“Pat!”] and we use it: “Pat, I’m happy to answer your questions; how may I help?”

We note their preferred name on the routing sheet and we acknowledge it at every touch point: “I see you prefer Pat, my friends call me Mark and I’m happy to help you on your journey through our office today. Next, we will….”

Using a patient’s preferred name keeps them connected to you. And when patients’ thoughts wander elsewhere, their preferred name is the simple way to regain their attention.

“Pat, I’ll have you rest your chin right here!”

“Pat, let me check your current glasses to determine if they protect your eyes outdoors from sun damage.”

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“That’s a great question, Pat, I’ll share how other patients have benefited, so you can make the right decision too!”

Connecting personally shows gratitude for their presence in your office and makes patients feel special. Patients are also more agreeable to what’s being prescribed and why and how it will benefit them when you’ve connected with them. It’s communicating with, not talking at!

Mark Hinton is a practice owner, as well as CEO and president of eYeFacilitate, a private practice consultancy. A sought-after ABO/COPE approved practice management expert, with eYeFacilitate he helps practices drive optical efficiencies, maximize managed care revenue and profit, improve capture, and increase revenue through simple systems with a focused process. Email him at [email protected]

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