When everything else is pushed out of the way, the most important reason we exist as a practice is for our patients. Nothing matters more to any of us than serving them at the highest level possible.
We are spoiled as workers in the healthcare industry, because we know what most people don’t… We know that the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. And yet, many of us have allowed barriers to be developed between ourselves and the very patients we exist to serve.
Dr. Denton Cooley (the first surgeon to ever successfully implant an artificial heart) understands this…
“Medicine in a capitalistic economy can be quite difficult. We often know the most intricate solutions, but we allow the question of ‘Can you afford this?’ to pollute the patient-provider relationship.
If we’re being honest with ourselves, the only thing polluting our relationships is the offensive presumption that patients only want access to a small portion of our training and care.”
At Skin Raleigh and Davis & Pyle Plastic Surgery, we refuse to allow our baggage about “up-selling” and our “Curse of Knowledge” to get in the way of world-class patient care.
Are we sensitive to patient’s different financial commitment levels? Of course. But we leave the question of how much a patient should spend to the patient.
This article specifically covers the guardrails that all of our providers have around their patient visits. Specifically for Skin Raleigh, the items below are designed to be followed each time a patient sits in your chair for treatment or consultation.
The most important question
As a provider, you have “The Curse of Knowledge.” In other words, you must throttle yourself back in order to meet a patient where they are at.
That’s why we ask every patient a 1 to 10 question:
“On a scale of 1 to 10, how happy are you with your (fill-in-the-blank)?”
As a provider, you should fill in the blank with the word or phase that makes the most sense. Then, don’t leave them trying to figure out where to start. Instead, give them a handful of guiding examples. For instance, a surgeon seeing a breast aug consult would say…
“On a scale of 1 to 10, how happy are you with your breasts? Think about things like size, shape, fullness, and position.”
Patient Care Coordinating is one of the most difficult jobs we have in our practice—especially since the standards we hold are leaps beyond what is expected of other PCCs in the industry.
Imagine the surgeon as a college professor and yourself as the guidance counselor. You’ve been through this before, and your job is to be the moving walkway at airports…
I’ve been where you’re at. I know what it’s like. And you don’t have to worry about anything from this point forward, because I’m going to make sure that you have and know everything you’ll need.
Our Three Principles
During consultations, there are three principles we follow to ensure the patient is both well-informed and connected with at a world-class level. We refer to these principles as:
The Trust We Build
The Boxes We Check
The Language We Speak
The Trust We Build
Before anything should actually be discussed or accomplished with a patient, we must build empathetic trust—that is, trust that comes from finding something in common.
That can be anything from where you were born, to season of life, to mutual friends, to kid’s schooling, etc.
It is essential that you not rush this portion of the consultation, because everything you will guide this patient through will hinge on them feeling a personal connection with you.
They should be smiling and relaxed before you discuss anything specific about their procedure.
The Boxes We Check
During a consultation, there are several essential items that we must cover with patients. Each of those items can be found here…
(Need this info from PCCs)
The Language We Speak
We make a big deal about how we speak with patients, and we have done a significant amount of psychological research on this area.
Deriving from that research, we use a 3-step mental model to walk our patients through each box that we check:
This mental model will be used dozens of times throughout a consultation. Let go over each step…
Empathize With a Story
“This person understands me” is one of the most important sentiments for a potential patient to believe during their consultation. The fastest way to build empathy is with a story that proves you’ve been in someone’s shoes.
“I remember how overwhelmed I felt when it came to figuring out how I was going to cover my procedure. My mom was telling me to get a credit card, my best friend was telling me to pay cash, and my neighbor said I should be investing in Bitcoin instead. I felt a little frozen, honestly.”
Textbook First, Picturebook Next
A common temptation during a consult is to be too clinical and prescriptive with our verbiage. Instead, set the topic up with a clear textbook-like statement, and then paint a picture in the patient’s mind to help them visualize the reality of the moment.
That’s why we’ve put together a few simple payment options for you to choose from.
“If the most important thing to you is saving a little bit on the total cost, you can take advantage of our cash or check discount. Or if you prefer not to use your current debit or credit card, we also have an application you can fill out with our financing company.”
Questions That Go Somewhere
Just like when responding to an email, we always avoid questions that assume patients know what to ask. For example, if we were to say, “What other questions do you have?” we are forcing a patient to stumble along the path alone.
Instead, we super-serve our patients by asking them questions that are going somewhere.
“Instead of giving you every detail about each of these, do you find yourself gravitating towards one versus the others?”
Wrapping It Up
At the end of the day, Patient Care Coordinators are advocates. Your job is to have everyone’s backs… the patients, your fellow PCCs, the surgeons and the Clinical Teams.
Everywhere else, PCCs are only expected to transfer information in a transactional way to patients. But not here… we establish meaningful relationships and treat every single patient like they are our most important patient.