When Patients Leave The Medical Practice

…the ones that leave were not our patients’ in the first place.

No matter how well your medical practice does, some patient/parents are going to get mad at you. In fact, they might get so upset, they may leave the practice. I’m not talking about the ones that leave because their insurance changed or they moved. I’m talking about the  ones that leave because something ticked them off.

The feeling is not good of course. My doctors often wonder, was it something I said? Did they not like me or my advice? Was it personal? Did my staff do something I was not aware of? I thought the parents agreed with my plan, what changed their minds?

We know we can’t please everybody. Nonetheless, it still hurts; especially when you have worked hard to have a practice that is the best medical practice one can have.

We’ve come to terms with the fact that some will leave. The way we look at it is: the ones that leave were not our patients’ in the first place.

If patients (or their parents) are unable to recognize the value our practice provides, then they are not truly our patients. Therefore, it is best they leave so we can focus on the patients that appreciate the doctor’s opinions, education, knowledge, guidance, clinical expertise, time, advice and staff.

In business, we often hear the customer is always right. And to some extend, the patient is always right; because they are in essence our customer. Until of course, the patient’s “need” conflicts with their “wants.”

One exception.

What if one of our “best” patients decides to leave?

Then we need to find out why. Because a parent/patient that values our medical practice, is a “customer” worth keeping.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Are we doing the right thing? Should we look at it differently? How do you deal with patients that leave the practice? 



2 thoughts on “When Patients Leave The Medical Practice”

  1. There are folks who leave, and there are folks you ask to leave. The latter definitely are not your patients, in the sense of being desirable from a practice standpoint (i.e. working in a professional, mutually beneficial partnership with you).

    Traditionally, the main motivator for wondering about folks who left was professional ethics, as you mentioned. Was it something I said, etc. But financially, there was less of a motivation, as most PCP’s have waiting lines of new patients desiring their services.

    In the new economy upon us, physician practices may no longer have that luxury. “There’re 5 folks who want your spot” is no longer true; a cursory review of matters and a resigned shrug as you move on to the next patient may find your accounts in the red in short order.

    Healthcare isn’t yet fully commoditized, so to speak, but it’s moving in that direction. More attention will need to be paid, closely examining what attracts folks and what keeps them, and optimizing these aspects of a practice. That alone will be a new exercise for many doctors.

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