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Interviewing Patients for Your Practice

In the traditional insurance model, the payer sends the patients to you, and you are obligated to see them. When you run your own medical practice, you interview patients for your practice to determine fit.

In this article, I’ll discuss my patient selection criteria with an overview of how I advertise my practice.

The ideal patient for each of us is different. This supposed person is called a customer avatar.

Broad targeting is one of the major digital marketing mistakes which result in business trying to attract everyone and ending up attracting nobody.

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1. My Favorite Patients

I started out by thinking back to the patients I enjoyed the most in the primary care setting. The ideal patient is someone open to feedback, respectful, and takes ownership of their health.

Remember, your category-one and -two patients are those who you enjoy working with, need your help, are happy to pay you, and who will refer other like people (or come from a referral source who will).

Physicians Practice

The degree of their health complexity is less important to me. A rather healthy individual may not be the right fit due to their expectations and a complex case may be ideal because of their willingness to work together.

2. Setting Boundaries

The initial patient interview is often 15 minutes long. I gauge their personality as a patient and ask what their relationships were like with previous clinicians.

If they could set healthy boundaries and respected the boundaries set by their clinicians, they are likely a good fit for my practice.

3. Explaining the Practice

A demanding patient is sometimes the result of a bad healthcare setting. My patient selection criteria focus on those who understand the subscription-based model and appreciate that this will be a long-term relationship.

The questions the patient asks or doesn’t ask are telling. Their interest in their health outcome over their ability to get what they want from a provider is important to me.

4. Stages of Readiness

When I go to the urgent care for an abscess, I’m often quite ready and willing to receive clinical care to feel better.

Sometimes, when patients go to their doctor for their diabetes or chronic low back pain, they are in search of a magic bullet that will fix it but not ready to do what it takes to improve.

In my medical practice, I base my patient selection criteria on who is willing to do what it takes to improve. Working with someone who has little buy-in or isn’t ready to commit to their health would be a poor use of both of our times.

5. Conflict Resolution

I often ask how you deal with conflict at work, with your partner, and with people you hire to work for you?

Conflict resolution is at the heart of every medical practice. I will tell my patient to lose weight by eating less bread but my patient tells me that my suggestions are ineffective. Frustration develops, and we both must work towards hearing the other person to move forward.

All my patients sign an arbitration agreement.

Questions to Ask the Patient

  1. How did you find my practice?
  2. What made you want to reach out?
  3. Describe your ideal primary care physician.
  4. What has your past experience been with your previous physicians?
  5. Do you feel that you are committed to improving your health with the input of a physician?
  6. Do you have any financial concerns when it comes to your healthcare?

Describing My Practice to Patients

Finding the right patients requires honesty. I must represent my practice as honestly as possible otherwise, I’ll set myself up for failure.

My Digital Nomad Primary Care practice is ideal for someone who wants to build a long-term patient-doctor relationship and not just get medication refills.

I order blood tests and imaging studies only when I know my patient will take action based on the outcome of these results.

I am available to my patients by text and email except for emergencies that need to be assessed by an EMT or ED.

Advertising My Practice By Word of Mouth

The elevator pitch for your practice is important. “It’s just another primary care clinic” won’t cut it.

In order to find the ideal patients for my practice, I say:

I’m a family medicine doctor with an online primary care practice that’s subscription-based.

Most of my patients are nomad types who want a long-term relationship with their own primary care doctor no mater where they are in the world.

The common response is that people prefer their in-person doctor. After all, what can you do for someone if they can’t examine you.

Funny story, I asked my buddy who told me this line when the last time he saw his PCP. He said that he has had a hell of a time getting in so he’s been seeing different people.

I asked if they examined him during his last visit. Yes, he said, they took his vitals. But what about the doctor? No, he didn’t examine me, but he didn’t need to because I needed my Singular refilled.

Ah, got it.

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