Perception is Reality-Whether Right or Wrong

“Perception is reality-whether right or wrong.” A trusted colleague of mine spoke these words today in a presentation to an organization of physician recruitment professionals and he could not be more right on. When working to provide your patients with the utmost care and concern for their health, it becomes imperative to understand how they perceive their experiences in your office. You may be confident you’re providing them with the best healthcare service, but how do they feel both during and after their interactions with your office environment and your staff? Are they engaged, welcomed and shown compassion during their visit? Do they find your waiting room accommodating and up to date? Do they feel valued as your patient? Do they perceive that your office respects them as both a patient and a person, not just another chart to process?

These are all vital patient perceptions your practice must understand and monitor when looking at servicing your patients, increasing your patient volumes and growing your bottom line. And, keep in mind, different patients will perceive their experiences in many different ways; for example, a patient in the “Greatest Generation” may find a waiting room with decor from the late 70’s to be welcoming, making them feel at home. That same waiting room will be perceived by a patient in the “Millenial” generation to be out-dated and their perception of the care they are about to receive may be the same. Successful, growing organizations realize the power this understanding of patient perceptions can have across the board and how changing those perceptions can lead to organic practice growth over time. Maybe it’s time you thought about how your office is perceived by your patients? Whether or not you agree with the way your patients perceive their experiences is irrelevant, because they are right– no matter if you think they’re wrong.

  • Ciro Attardo M.D.
    February 6, 2010

    Your statements are correct only if perception is not too far from the truth. Decor and atmosphere will only take you so far. When our organization looked at our values, words like “caring, compassion, patient-centered” were discussed. But the core of our business is our expertise at treating illness. That needs to be our first value. For example, if your child needs a complicated surgery, you look for the surgeon who has the best skills and not the decor.

    Having said that, caring is just as much a part of healing as any pill can be. And the patient can see through the appearance of caring.

    A relationship is like an onion. At first it looks benign and perhaps it can be a subject in a still life. As you peel away the layers, you get to learn how stinky it can be. And sometimes it makes you cry. On the other hand at least the nice looking onion will be bought and in the end enjoyed.

  • JVerkamp
    February 9, 2010

    Thanks for sharing your insight Dr. Attardo. I completely agree, treating patients’ health needs must be the first value and the most important focus of any physician’s office; if my child was ill, the best surgeon would be my first and only choice regardless of his office. That being said, with consumerism emerging in healthcare, more pcp’s, peds, ob/gyn’s, etc are starting to feel the pressure of competition for their patients (especially in certain areas of the country) wouldn’t you agree? You’re right on, it’s about developing a relationship with the patients and peeling it back one layer at a time. Thanks again for sharing!

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