When is the last time you parked in the parking lot in front of your office and looked around like a new, or old, client coming to your practice? Try it. Just sit in your car for a minute and look around. Do you like what you see? What image is it presenting to folks who don’t know what a great group of people are behind that front door? Is your office really projecting the “value added” image you and your team think it is?
When you get out and walk into the office notice the entrance and the front door. Is it welcoming, clean and functional? I recently visited an office that looked nice from the parking lot but when I opened the front door the handle felt like it was going to fall off in my hand. Little things mean a great deal when folks don’t know you.
What do you see when you open the door? A welcoming space? A smiling face? The office I visited had the reception area positioned so that it caused a traffic jam as you walked in. Inbound people were running into outbound people causing confusion if not HIPPA violations. I had been told this doctor and team were caring and skilled but without prior knowledge I would have been less positive at this point.
I was greeted warmly and confirmed my name and appointment time. I was then handed an iPad with instructions to: “please follow the directions and fill in the forms”. The funny thing is that I had filled out all the same forms on the doctor’s website the night before and sent them in as directed. I decided not to make an issue of this and filled things out again (but I was not happy). Then when I turned in my iPad, I was handed additional paper forms to read and sign – I had filled those out on line too. By now the doctor’s skill and great staff were a bit tarnished in my view.
I took a seat in the reception area, where the chairs were lined up with no room between them. I was beginning to feel like I had come to visit a bus stop. People came and left and I waited. I had arrived a bit early, but my appointed time brought nothing but a smile from the reception desk. Finally, some forty minutes late the doctor came and escorted me to a treatment room. He had multiple staff in the office talking to one another but not recognizing that I was present or that the doctor was running late. It was nice to meet the doctor but it seemed odd that he was filling the staff roll. He was knowledgeable, concerned and often interrupted by staff. It was immediately clear that he was not managing his practice, it was managing him.
Once we had established my issue he was focused and very skilled. My treatment was quick and comfortable. It was easy to understand why some people feel he is special and will put up with the rest of this dysfunctional office. But, he could be so much more successful with so much less stress in his life. Part of his problem is that he is working so hard to overcome the people and systems that are poorly designed or executed he does not have the energy to make positive change. When I wrote the check to pay for my treatment I did not feel that I had a “value added” experience.
This doctor may be special but much of what he surrounds himself with is not. However, just fixing “systems” will never fix the problems in this office. The core issue is the doctor and his philosophy. All the so called “value added” items mentioned above will never change until the doctor realizes his behavior is what creates the atmosphere he is living with. Until he decides that he wants change and expresses it in his behavior, teaches his team about his new way of working and requires accountability, nothing significant will change.
What makes you special is much more that you. It is owning and sharing a philosophy that is client centered. Your philosophy will express itself in your level of accountability and the accountability of your team. Where team members care about a loose door handle and are not afraid to address it. Where people don’t “need” treatment they choose outcomes that lead to better health. You, doctor, must be accountable. You must find team members who will live the philosophy and are experience accountable as well. Then you can focus on the myriad of things and systems that demonstrate your care and concern for the whole person that sees the experience of your office as truly value added.