Article Date: 10/1/2012

fix this practice
fix this practice

Be Aware of Non-Verbal Images

Your patients may never tell you, but appearances do count.

Richard S. Kattouf, O.D., D.O.S.

Q Through the years, you have mentioned the significance of non-verbal images in a practice. Could you expand on these positive effects on a practice?
Dr. D.H. Glenn
via e-mail

A: Having performed on-site consultation services in hundreds of offices in all 50 states, I have found non-verbal images always make a difference. It is necessary to evaluate your office with “consumer eyes” in the following areas:

Parking lot. Is it clean? Free of debris? No major cracks or pot holes? No weeds growing through the black top or concrete and overall landscaping?

This attention to detail sets your practice apart from the competition in your area.

Staff. Does the employee who greets patients have host qualities — that is, immediate recognition of the patient's presence, a warm smile, pleasant greeting and a helpful personality? Kattouf Consulting Services (KCS) has seen instances in which staffers pay little or no attention to the patient.

Also, many patients notice and appreciate the effort service employees put into their appearance, yet KCS observes many employees entering the office with wet hair and wrinkled clothes or uniforms. In addition, we've seen employees eat at the front desk.

Shame on any owner who does not teach proper, professional front office behavior. Your employees appearance, behavior and manners are a direct reflection on the you, the doctor.

Doctor's appearance. Consider your nails, clothing and breath. For example, as doctors we touch patients' faces. Therefore, make sure to wash your hands in view of every patient prior to commencing the comprehensive exam. When your appearance is on target, your confidence and patient control are at their peak.

Office décor. Consider the services of an interior decorator. The colors, fabrics, artwork and carpet must be pleasing, warm and welcoming. Appear professional in this area. Within reason you must spend money to make money.

Office cleanliness. Use a professional cleaning company to service tile floors and restrooms. Delegate light, daily cleaning to ancillary personnel. KCS has seen many offices that are out right filthy in addition to bathrooms that have dirty mops in full view, paper supplies and soap dispensers not replenished and no hot water.

Patient flow. Patients should not be in the reception room longer than 10 minutes from the time they report to the front desk. Honor the patient's time. It shows you care.

Instrumentation. Having state-of-the-art medical diagnostic instrumentation tells patients they will receive the highest level of care. Negative non-verbal queues in this area include old equipment and 1970s style décor and frame displays.

Note: None of these points by themselves will have any great influence on your practice. By implementing all of them, you show you display attention to detail. You show you care to provide the best professional experience possible.

Doctors, the bottom line is you having a continuous pulse and control on all of the areas outlined above. Teach your staff that all patients are wearing a sign on their chest that says, “Make me feel important.” All of these non-verbal images are part of this process. 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, Volume: 47 , Issue: October 2012, page(s): 20