fix this practice
How Do You Define "Strange?"
Even unconscious, unusual behavior sends a
message to your patients.
S. KATTOUF, O.D., D.O.S.
am one of four O.D.s who own two large practices. Some of my partners' habits seem
bizarre to me. What are normal and abnormal behavior patterns?
J. L. Simon
Interesting question! Working as a consultant for more than twenty years has awarded
me the opportunity to work with many offices in all fifty states. Each time I think
I have seen it all, a new bizarre behavior appears. As I was observing an optometric
practice in the Midwest, I noticed one doctor enjoyed snacking between patients.
The problem was when he walked into the next exam spewing small particles of food
at the patient. This is way up on the bizarre scale. It reaches the level of unconscious.
Behavioral patterns are learned. No staff member ever corrected the doctor. Patients
are grossed out but silent they simply do not return. His physical plant
(office) was run down and a "throw back" to the 1950s. Most patients will not tolerate
such crude and rude behavior. However, the majority of his patients were Medicaid.
As his consultant, I made him aware of why he could not retain "private pay" or
"insured" patients and had excessive staff turnover. (The staffing issues were partly
due to his lack of personal awareness.)
Where does it come from?
My on-site management visits often include observing
the doctor in consultation (closing) with the patient. Dr. Fry* had a habit of placing
his hand in front of his mouth when he spoke to patients. It was difficult to hear
him and annoying to the patient. Certainly I classify this as a bizarre behavior.
Some of these issues are not as simple to solve as identifying the action and instructing
the person to stop. Many times the client and I have to search for the root cause
in order to correct it.
Here is one for the books: In a period
of one month, on two different consultation visits, I observed a behavior I had
never seen. Two O.D.s had developed a habit of calling patients who missed their
appointments. It's entirely appropriate for an assistant to call a patient who is
ten to fifteen minutes late but never the doctor! This action, on the part of the
doctor, embarrassed the staff. They knew it was not proper and felt their employer
did not trust them to do their job. Is there even a question as to whether a patient
will return after such a call from her doctor?
Other strange behavior patterns:
eat between patients and fail to purge themselves of food odors
workout at lunch and perspire profusely for thirty or forty minutes
are seriously obese and wear undersized clothes
take personal phone calls in front of a patient.
Why it matters
Re-reading these bizarre behaviors, some seem
almost fictional. But I have observed them all.
Optometry has its history in retail.
As a profession, many times we are not perceived as "real doctors." There is no
question that we need to be more aware and pay strict attention to detail to send
the proper message to our patients.
changed to protect the odd.
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
Optometric Management, Issue: July 2006