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A huge part of having a successful medical practice is happy patients. A practice cannot succeed if they are unable to make their patients happy or meet their needs. The best way to determine what needs to be improved upon in your practice is by looking at it from your patient’s perspective, from their arrival to their departure from your office. Here are some likes and dislikes that are often seen expressed in patient surveys.


There are some important things to think about when it comes to your office atmosphere. Patients appreciate walking into a clean waiting room with plenty of comfortable seating. This includes uniform chairs that aren’t positioned too closely together. Also, having televisions on a general station with subtitles, and updated magazines make for good entertainment materials while waiting.

Open Communication

One of the most frustrating things that can happen when you go to the doctor’s offices revolves around wait times. It’s important to keep to your schedule throughout the day to remain timely and on track. If your patient will be affected by any delays happening at the office, the best thing you can do is communicate that to them. Give them all the information they need so they can make an informed decision in terms of waiting it out, or rescheduling for a later date. The best way to avoid this problem is to not overbook, and give yourself enough time between appointments to take care of the task at hand.

Staff Interactions

Another important entity of a successful practice is your patients having positive, friendly interactions with staff members. Talking to someone who is obviously disinterested through a glass barrier is NOT an effective way to do this. Patients should be greeted with a smile upon entering the practice. If there is a delay, the staff should be offering patients something to drink during their wait, such as water or a cup of coffee.

Doctor Interactions

Once your patients are taken into a room to be seen by the doctor, they should not have to face another wait time higher than 15-20 minutes before actually seeing their doctor. Patients like a doctor who seems engaged and asks personal questions before getting into the medical stuff. It’s important for your patient to feel at ease in your presence, not like they are being rushed through their appointment. A great tip to help patients feel at ease is for the doctor themselves to be at ease. This includes taking a seat during the important, instead of standing next to the door.

In addition to these important topics above, there are a few more things to keep an eye on within your practice. This includes providing your patients with basic literature and information to read up on their issue. Also, there is nothing worse than an overly complicated phone system that makes it difficult to speak to an actual person. An updated website with clear directions is also an excellent way to make your practice more desirable.

Dr. Arnold Peter Weiss is the R. Scot Sellers Scholar of Hand Surgery; Chief of Hand Surgery; Vice Chairman & Professor, Brown University.