What we can learn from "other" doctors
In the last year, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time in doctor visits with my aging mom. We saw the oncologist and oncology surgeon for colon cancer, the orthopedic surgeon for her fractured pelvis, arthritic shoulder and hands, the list goes on. Thankfully, Mom is doing better, the fractured pelvis healed and no other surgeries planned yet. But I spent time in these visits paying special attention to the care she received, and I learned some things along the way.
Doctors were friendlier than I thought they’d be
Admittedly, I started the journey with a chip on my shoulder—thinking we (veterinarians) are superior to the “other” doctors in many ways. What I observed surprised me and most was very good. The oncologist was not only warm and compassionate, but had a good sense of humor. He gave us his e-mail, which he responds to quickly, even at night and on the weekends. The shoulder surgeon spent a long time with us. He had great stories and his own humor: “My wife and kids want me to do surgery so I can get the next Xbox” or “I can do it, but only if the pain is so bad that you want to go through the pain and hassle of surgery.” The hand doctor was also genuinely friendly, joking with my mom and poring over digital X-rays of her hand on his laptop. Again, we were told, “Sure, we can do surgery,” but he suggested first trying physical therapy and hand braces before even considering it.
Doctors were busy—but for the right reasons
Some doctors ran behind schedule, but not because of long lunches or chatting with golfing buddies. I was reminded of the sign we have in our reception area: “Sorry for any delays. We’re trying to give everyone the full attention they need.” I guess we can all schedule better.
We may be quick to say that veterinarians are better than the rest—we can’t afford to keep people waiting, right? But we should all take a close look at our own client interactions and take an objective look at how we, and our team, stack up. Stop assuming and start looking. Ask your manager or a practice consultant to watch you and your practice in action and pinpoint areas of strengths and weaknesses.
Bottom line, there’s always room for improvement, and one thing I know for sure, the client is always judging. I know because during every single doctor’s visit with my mom, we naturally reviewed the appointment, the doctor, the office, the time, etc. It’s human nature—for you and your clients.
Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board Member Dr. Jeff Rothstein, MBA, is president of the Progressive Pet Animal Hospitals and Management Group in Michigan.