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Dr. Steve Vargo | 1/28/2020
A QUICK WAY TO CONNECT WITH PATIENTS

The longer I study what makes some doctors more influential with patients than others, the more I appreciate the ability of some to build strong connections with the patients they serve.

In a fast-paced healthcare environment where some doctors and their staff are seeing patients at a rapid pace, it might feel like there’s not enough time to connect with patients on a personal level. A quick case history, some pretesting, some diagnostic testing, communicate findings, and send the patient to the optical.

I might be “old school” in my thinking here, but I still think the adage applies – people like doing business with people they like and trust. Not computers or Internet sites or kiosks, but real people! I’m going to give you a tip here that will help you quickly connect with people, and in the process establish more likability and trust.

Typically, we ask about the patient’s occupation, because it’s relevant to how they use their vision. Instead of just asking “what” the patient does, ask “why” they chose that profession. This opens up a conversation that’s more likely to establish a personal connection, because the patient is likely to share something personal with you. You could also inquire about hobbies or other pursuits, like involvement in a charitable organization. This provides an opportunity for you to respond by telling the patient why you became an optometrist, which likely involves your desire to help others. Sharing that with the patient positively alters their perception of you.

Isn’t that a better way to start an exam than, “Are you having any problems with your vision?”

Even in a busy practice, this conversation might only last a couple minutes, but it can have a lasting impact on how the patient perceives you, whether or not they continue to return to you, and what their response will be when asked to purchase a product or service from your practice.

It’s relatively easy to walk away from a business that we have no real connection with. It’s less easy to walk away from someone we like and trust.

Don’t lose your patient to a website or an app. Make a personal connection!

Dr. Steve Vargo
Practice Management Consultant
Steve Vargo, OD, MBA is a 1998 graduate of Illinois College of Optometry. After working in a clinical optometric practice for several years, Dr. Vargo pursued his passion for practice management by earning his Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from the University of Phoenix in 2008. A published author and speaker with 15 years of clinical experience, he serves as IDOC’s Optometric Practice Management Consultant and advises members in all areas of practice management and optometric office operations. Steve and his wife Melanie have two sons, Lucas and Ryan. In his spare time, he enjoys running, cycling, sports and music. A native Chicagoan, he is an avid fan of the Cubs, live music and deep-dish pizza.
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