Article Date: 2/1/2009

Six Most Highly Ineffective Habits
fix this practice

Six Most Highly Ineffective Habits

Stay off this list: Avoiding poor hygiene, cell phones and tardiness.

RICHARD S. KATTOUF, O.D., D.O.S.

Q In your years of performing on-site consulting for O.D.'s and M.D.'s, please share some of the worst habits of doctors.

Dr. A.J. Lebow
via e-mail

A: Each time I tell myself I have seen it all, I find another whopper of a behavioral pattern. As unbelievable as these may sound, they were all real and observed.

Doctors answering cell phones while with a patient. Simply place yourself in the consumer's position. Personally, I would never return to a professional who did such a thing. Your cell phone doesn't belong on your person while treating patients. If you want to have huge patient erosion, this will accomplish it — no problem. Any doctor doing this has no common sense. What message are you sending to your staff?

Doctors arriving late in the morning or after lunch. Why would a patient request an early appointment? Could it be that he has to get to work or has other appointments? When you're tardy, your staff is exposed to irate patients. The owner of any practice has an obligation to protect his/her staff. When your behavior creates stress, the employee morale, loyalty and productivity go down hill.

I always meet with the practice staff alone to get their perception of the practice and the doctor with whom they work. Yes, some venting occurs, but I discover many pertinent facts about the doctor's behaviors.


ILLUSTRATION BY DAN MCGEEHAN

Doctors spending excessive social time with patients. Independent optometric practices are made up of families of patients. As a result, It's not uncommon for families to maintain the same O.D. for decades. You learn a lot of family details, such as colleges, sports, hobbies, etc. This can lead to long conversations that aren't vision related. It's the obligation of you, the O.D., to stay on schedule. If not, you create stress for your organization. Therefore, establish a balance among empathy, cordial interactions and examinations.

Doctors hygiene and appearance not appropriate. Optometrists are classified as physicians by the federal government. You should set an example for your staff, patients and communities. Remember, you are a billboard for your practice. Therefore, dandruff, dirty nails, body odor, excessive fragrance, bad breath and eating in front of patients isn't acceptable. Further, clothing that is too small, too large or too casual doesn't make you appear as a medical professional. Again, you set the example for all employees.

Doctors telling inappropriate jokes or using suggestive language to patients or staff. We are a litigious society. These actions can lead to a license loss or suspension. The press coverage on such an issue can destroy your career.

Doctors giving their services away. Patients are to pay you for your time, skill, knowledge and risk. Independent O.D.s are notorious for performing medical services and either not charging at all or undercharging. If your staff is part of a commission or involved in profit sharing then you, the doctor, are anchoring their efforts. Again, this leads to poor morale. OM


DR. KATTOUF IS PRESIDENT AND FOUNDER OF TWO MANAGEMENT AND CONSULTING COMPANIES. FOR INFORMATION, CALL (800) 745-EYES, OR E-MAIL HIM AT ADVANCEDEYECARE@HOTMAIL.COM. THE INFORMATION IN THIS COLUMN IS BASED ON ACTUAL CONSULTING FILES.

Optometric Management, Issue: February 2009