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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.
- Don't say customer or client.... Say patient
- Don't say sell.... Say prescribe or dispense or provide
- Don't say buy.... Say order
- Don't say store or shop.... Say office or practice
- Don't say business or trade .... Say practice or profession
- Don't say price.... Say fee
- Don't say old patient.... Say established patient
- Don't say waiting room.... Say reception area
- Don't say back room.... Say lab or administrative office
- Don't say optical shop.... Say optical dispensary
- Don't say buy frames.... Say select frames
- Don't say girl.... Say technician or assistant or optician or staff member or use person's actual name
- Don't say employee.... Say staff member
- Don't say doctor is busy.... Say doctor is with a patient
- Don't say doctor is on vacation.... Say doctor is out of the office
- Don't say doctor is late.... Say schedule was interrupted by an emergency
- Don't say trade show.... Say conference
- Don't say trade magazine.... Say professional journal
- Don't say trade group.... Say professional association
- Don't say equipment.... Say instruments
- Don't say check eyes.... Say perform examination
- Don't say check up.... Say follow-up exam
- Don't say trial contact lens.... Say diagnostic contact lens
- Don't say fit contacts.... Say prescribe contacts
- Don't say check contacts.... Say evaluate contacts and corneal health
- Don't say pick-up glasses.... Say dispense eyewear
- Don't say insert.... Say apply
- Don't say surgery or operation.... Say procedure
- Don't say drug.... Say medication
- Don't say steroid.... Say anti-inflammatory medication
- Don't say glasses were rejected.... Say glasses did not meet our quality standards
- Don't say pressure check or glaucoma test or air puff.... Say tonometry or measurement of intraocular pressure
- Don't say picture.... Say photograph or image
- Don't say invisible bifocals.... Say progressive lenses
- Don't say antireflective coating.... Say antireflective lenses
- Don't say no problem.... Say thank you and you're welcome
Best wishes for continued success,
Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Editor, Optometric Management Tip of the Week
A Proud Supporter of
Send questions and comments to email@example.com.
Dr. Gailmard offers consulting services to eye care professionals through Prima Eye Group; information is available at www.primaeyegroup.com.
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