Chiropractic Economics for permission to reproduce this article!
By Bob Levoy
A recent survey of what people value in a doctor identifies some of the factors that ultimately affect patient retention and practice growth. Although this survey’s sample seems to be medical doctors, we can assume the same factors apply to doctors of chiropractic.
A cross-section of 2,267 adults surveyed by Harris Interactive® for The Wall Street Journal, said it is extremely important for doctors to have strong interpersonal skills, such as being respectful (85 percent) and listening carefully to health concerns and questions (84 percent). In addition, patients feel it is important for their doctor to: be easy to talk to (84 percent); take their concerns seriously (83 percent) and be willing to spend enough time with them (81 percent).
What’s startling is that these interpersonal skills are all valued more than sound medical judgment (80 percent).
As the table shows, the biggest discrepancy between what people want from their doctors and what they actually get is related to how up-to-date their doctors are on the latest medical research and treatment. Seventy-eight percent feel this knowledge is extremely important for their doctors to have, but only 54 percent actually described their doctors as being up-to-date.
With interpersonal skills being of such importance to patients, it’s no surprise that some have changed doctors due to failures in this regard. Fourteen percent changed because they didn’t feel their doctors listened to them carefully, 12 percent felt as though their doctors didn’t spend enough time with them, and 11 percent felt they weren’t treated with respect. 
|What People Want From Their Doctor, And What They Get
|Treats you with dignity and respect
|Listens carefully to your healthcare concerns and questions
|Is easy to talk to
|Takes your concerns seriously
|Is willing to spend enough time with you
| Truly cares about you and your health
| Has good medical judgment
|Asks you good questions to really understand your medical conditions and your needs
|Is up-to-date with the latest research and treatment
|Can see you on short notice if necessary
|Responds promptly when you call or e-mail
with questions or concerns
What can you do to help ensure that you meet your patients’ expectations:?
Do business with people on their terms. You can't deal with them on your version of their terms.
Respect your patients. Among the many ways to show respect for patients is to be on time for appointments. In our society, time spent waiting is linked to status. The more important you are, the more promptly you're seen. VIPs never wait.
Listen. “If you're not listening to patients,” says Dr. Jeffrey Golub-Evans of New York, you may be contributing to a patient's sense that you're not interested, not concerned, not compassionate, and maybe not even competent. Get it? Shut up and listen.
Tap into your staff. Schedule a staff meeting to brainstorm for ways to communicate to patients that your practice is up-to-date on the latest research, treatment protocols and equipment.
Take some time to identify any gaps that may exist between what your patients want from your practice and what they're getting. Collaborate with your staff; put yourself in your patients' shoes. Use these techniques to fulfill your patients' wants and reinforce and build on your patient base.
Bob Levoy is a seminar speaker and writer. His columns appear regularly in Chiropractic Economics. He can be reached at 516-626-1353.
1. Doctors' Interpersonal Skills Valued More Than Their Training or Being Up-To-Date, Harris Interactive Poll, The Wall Street Journal Online, Volume 3, Issue 19, October 1, 2004
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