Money Matters

Vital to make patients feel good about themselves

It’s easy to waste time. I myself did a great job of it this morning, in fact, by reliving my childhood.

See, instead of doing some real work, I spent some time on YouTube, looking at videos from when I was a kid.

Specifically, Back to the Future clips. (If like me you were a kid in the 80’s I DARE you not to feel a stirring inside when you watch it.)

Now you know the crazy thing? Here’s the script:

Terrorist: Go, go!

Marty McFly: Come on, move!

Marty McFly: Holy shit!

Marty McFly: Let’s see if you bastards can do 90…

And that’s it. Fifteen words. But how did it make you feel inside?

Excited. Heart racing. Probably with a big grin on your face.

You see, people don’t remember what you say. They remember how you make them feel.

Which is one of the reasons breaking bad news to patients can be such a difficult task. Because the news you break to them is bad, but you somehow also have to give them hope and a sense that not only do you care, but there is something that can be done for them – even if there isn’t very much. A difficult task indeed.

And which is also why you get complaints, more often than not. Frequently not because of what you said, but because of how the patient felt – they thought you were rude, dismissive, uncaring – even if you really weren’t.

So here’s the thing. Making patients feel good about themselves is far more important, in some ways, than being a good clinician. Think back to your own experience with colleagues: which get the fewest complaints? The warmest, most open, almost touchy-feely ones, I’ll bet. And are they the best clinicians? Sometimes. But usually not.

You can use this simple fact in other ways too.

In all your communication with your patients, you not only need to focus on the benefits of what you do (rather than the ‘thing’ of what you do) but also think about how you want them to feel. Think about coming across as a warm, avuncular uncle/aunt type person in all your marketing materials and on your website – which is where your potential patients will first encounter you, and where they will decide if they want to see you.

Make your patients feel good inside and your practice will fly. Even for those of us without a touchy-feely bone in our bodies.

Surgeons like me, for example.

Dev Lall (FRCS) runs Private Practice Expert. Visit for free daily tips on how to grow your private practice.

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One Response to “Vital to make patients feel good about themselves”

  1. Bob Bury says:

    So just tell them there’s nothing wrong with them.

    Oh, wait a minute. Then you wouldn’t be able to extract any money from them. So that’s no good then.

    I’ll give it some more thought.

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