How To Insult Your Patients Easily And Efficiently Without Even Trying

Last week on Tuesday I had to have some eye surgery on my left eye.

As you can imagine, eye surgery is a fairly invasive procedure, which can be risky. And with that level of risk comes a small sense of anxiety for the patient.

The patient might think:

“Am I doing the right thing?”

Well, at least, that’s what I was thinking…

Anyway, the procedure, or SURGERY, is performed in a hospital. And although you’re not “knocked out” for the operation, there is a need for the patient to be VERY HEAVILY SEDATED.

After all, the patient can’t be operated on if his eyes are shut closed by the anaesthetic, I guess.

So, with the operation being on the Tuesday, my wife asked me on the Sunday morning what the “schedule” for the day was going to be.

I told her that I was expecting a phone call on the Monday to fill me in on the usual details, like arrival time, operation time, release time, and what time I was due back to see the surgeon on the Wednesday for review, etc….

So, at 10:30am on the Monday I have a missed call on my phone from the hospital…

I return the call, expecting the hospital to be updating a few details and arrangements for the following day.

No. That’s not why they called.

The hospital had phoned me because they needed to update my private health insurance details.

They were calling to ensure that they were going to get paid.

Here’s how the phone call went:

Me: “Hello. I just had a missed call from you. I’m having a procedure done tomorrow.”

Hospital person: “What was your name?”

Me: “David Moffet.”

Hospital person: “What was your date of birth?”

I gave her my date of birth.

Hospital person: “I’m just ringing about your health insurance and your payment. Do you have your health insurance membership number there?”

Me: “Well it’s not normally something that I carry around with me, but I do have it here nearby to where I’m sitting..…just one moment.”

I rummaged around, found the membership card, and read out the number to her.

Hospital person: “Thank you.”

Me: “Before you go, can you let me know the details about what I’m having done tomorrow.”

Hospital person: “Someone from the doctor’s rooms will ring you about that around 1:00pm today….”

Me: “Thank you.”

If you want to insult your patients easily and efficiently without even trying, that’s what you do…

The best way to insult your patients first and foremost is to go for their wallets before you’ve earned the right to…

If you want to earn the respect of your customers, then the first thing you need to do is to build a relationship WITH THEM over and above anything else that you do for them.

In business, your customers really want to know how much you care, before they even want to think about handing over their hard-earned to you.

In this case here, the hospital seemed more intent on finding out whether or not they were going to be paid, before they reached out to me, as real live human being, with senses and feelings and emotions….

Years Ago…

Years ago, in fact, many, many years ago, I employed a dental receptionist who greeted every patient emerging from their treatment room with:

“That’ll be NINETY FIVE.

Or some other number.

[Where the words “NINETY FIVE” or some other number represented the fee for today’s treatment (in dollars)].

There was no compassion, or chat, or small-talk.

There wasn’t even a reference to dollars per say, or to the treatment.

It was a straight grab for the wallet first.

And as you can imagine, this was not a very well thought out strategy by her.

In fact, it was not a very practical or functional step or process for our business.

And my only excuse for this was that this was what she chose to say BEFORE my dental practice established its Ultimate Patient Experience procedures and protocols.

There Is A Place

There always needs to be a place for asking to be paid. However, it should not be first place.

In the dental practice, we knew that collecting payment was important. But we also knew that it was to our advantage to be preceding the request for payment with other discussions, so that the request for payment was “massaged into” the discussion in a well-managed manner.

Maybe somebody needs to let this hospital know that there is a more palatable order of proceedings for their day?

Although most of the hospital patients will be going ahead with the procedure regardless, it is nicer for the paying patient to feel as if the payment of the hospital fees is not a bittersweet transaction.


PS. As an after comment, the procedure went swimmingly, and all the hospital staff that I met and dealt with during my visit were  absolutely fabulous.


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