Every day, as I write in my journal, I note that I am working my hardest to do the little things right so that the bigger pieces fall into place. For me, the little things include getting documentation done on time, sitting and engaging with each patient, and striving to keep my work and living spaces organized so I don’t lose things. These are arguably the most important factors in keeping me engaged with my work and in generating return business from patients.
This has helped lead to growing patient satisfaction, improved patient outcomes, and high frequency of referrals since clients trust me to actually listen. This focus on the little things has also led to recognition of when someone else drops the ball.
Such recognition is not meant to be spiteful, yet patients routinely express shock that they had “never been told this” before. Just recently, a total knee patient expressed surprise when I informed the patient that wearing the knee immobilizer was not necessary when utilizing a CPM machine for passive range of motion. For anyone not associated with the therapy side of healthcare, the very purpose of a knee immobilizer is in the name, so wearing one while using a machine to gain range of motion is a bit, well, conflicting. The patient was surprised and quite frustrated that two other medical professionals (whom the patient had point blank questioned) had not mentioned this fact.
Based on discussion, the other professionals came in, spoke a well rehearsed speech, did not allow room for questions and left. The patient was stuck simply trying to process the information, and was never provided opportunity for clarification. I have certainly been guilty of this on numerous occasions, but that does not excuse the behavior. We have to do better. In the internet age, the patient-doctor relationship is becoming more important than ever. People are flocking to models of care where they pay extra for the opportunity to better know their doctor. The relationship aspect of healthcare is very important, and has honestly been lost along the way.
Drawing a parallel with the fitness industry, one can see the importance of coaches building relationships with their clients. Everyone is a coach according to social media, and so how do we who provide a quality service separate ourselves from those who do not? The client comes to you for coaching in whatever form, but it is the relationship you build that brings referrals and keeps clients on board. I have lost a few clients myself when life got busy and I failed to interact with them with enough frequency, and they lost interest in the product I provided. When the paying customer is no longer interested or engaged, they will find another place to spend their money, just as they will in the rehabilitation business.
As coaches, clinicians, and educators, our time is certainly valuable, but I think it is important to remember that so many are just as eager to learn as we are to teach. Engaging intelligently, building relationships with clients, and making sure you educate on the why (within reason of course), and the client will love you all the more for it.
Make sure to do the little things right, and watch the client list grow as “the big pieces fall into place. “
Do good and be the change,
Taylor Weglicki, PT, DPT