I wanted to initially title this article “Training Your Patient” but that isn’t the whole story. Sure, when you start seeing non-insurance patients you’ll have to reassure them that your practice will be a whole another model.
The patients are accustomed to being ignored and having to push in order to be listened to. They might even revert to treating you with some disdain when the going gets tough.
I let my patient know that whatever treatment they want, whatever imaging study they like, I’m 100% open to doing that for them. But that I’d like us to have an open, vulnerable, and honest discussion about the options.
Setting the Practice Stage
I had to look up this idiom – setting the stage means that you are setting yourself up for a particular desired outcome.
I don’t want to get into back and forths with my patient. Nor do I want them to think they have to fight me on anything. I don’t want to be their father figure or their doormat.
For each physician, the practice stage will be different. My practice is designed so that I have informal connections with my patient. I am their expert and their mentor.
The Current Healthcare Model
Imagine if the current healthcare model had no gatekeepers for referral to specialists. Imagine if patients could get any imaging study and any medication they wanted.
They could go through 10 rounds of antibiotics and get an MRI, CT, PET, and Ultrasound before seeing you. Can you even imagine what an interesting healthcare system this might be?
Despite all of their tests and treatments, they aren’t any closer to figuring out or managing their acute or chronic issues. Suddenly, we as physicians, we’d have to figure out how to really help patients.
Medical Practice Style
Setting the practice stage starts with what you say or write about your practice online. It continues with the kind of ads you place. And it ends with how you greet your patient for the first time.
My virtual practice is such that I don’t prescribe medications – or hardly ever do. I’m bored with pharmacology and most of my patients are healthy enough to not need them. Or I ask that they have their own specialists for individual prescriptions.
The content I write on various channels makes it very clear where I stand with western medicine. If you think that I’m going to prescribe you Percocets and insulin then you weren’t paying attention.
When I run an ad online I am making it clear that I am most effective in the role of a health coach. And that my ideal patients have their own specialists for in-person visits or prescriptions.
Greeting my Patient
The very first time I interact with my patients is often by phone or a video chat. There, I go over what my practice looks like and I screen them to see if they are a right fit for me.
I also give them the opportunity to screen me. They have already paid for the visit. And I’ll make it abundantly clear that they are welcome to a 100% refund if either of us feels we’re not the right fit for each other.