Optometric Management Tip # 290   -   Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Words Make a Difference

There is no question that the way your practice is perceived by patients has a huge effect on future success. During the course of a visit, an image is formed by thousands of little things that are seen and heard in your office. We have control over most of those things to a large extent, but many doctors become so busy that there just is not enough time to train staff members on little details. I hope this list of preferred terms will help to a small degree.

The list is not exhaustive and it's not perfect because words taken out of context can have different meanings. But it's a start. I tried to balance the need to say things in a professional and pleasing manner, yet not become so obtuse that a patient does not understand what you're talking about.

Have all your staff members read this list and consider printing and posting it discreetly at your front desk (not the check-out counter). It would actually be a good idea for doctors to give the list a quick read as well; I hear many of my colleagues use some of the non-preferred terms quite frequently. Staff members tune in to the terms used by the doctor so it's important to set a good example. The list is also a must-read for all new employees.

As you hear other examples of phrases that could be expressed in a better way, just add them to the list.
Best wishes for continued success,

Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Chief Optometric Editor, Optometric Management