Practice Metrics

Do Patients Like Making Small Talk With You?

Older patients like to make small talk the most with you, according to Jobson Optical Research’s 2012 Waiting Game report. It looks like the younger the patient, the less interested they are in chatting with you. Some 76.5 percent of patients 55 and older say it’s “nice to make some small talk with the doctor.” That compares to 75.2 percent of 45- to 54-year-olds who like to make small talk, and 69.5 percent of 35- to 44-year-olds who like to small talk with their doctor. In contrast, 66.3 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds like to chat with their doctor.

Small talk does two things: it connects us to patients and is a portal giving us entry into additional information about the patient leading to better patient care.

Connection with the patient is one of the keys to creating loyal patients and not just satisfied patients. Loyal patients return to the practice and bring others. Satisfied patients may or may not return. We want loyal patients.

To create the connection you want to identify shared experiences. Look for experiences that are important to the patient. Family and pets are more important most of the time than the weather.

Using the portal of focused small talk helps us in managing patients. It helps us understand more of the patient’s wants and needs at home, work, school and play. This gives the ability to prescribe solutions that improve their quality of life at home, school, work and play.

To better manage small talk with patients in practice where we are living (or dying) by the schedule we need to guide the small talk. Here are three tips to help guide the small talk.

1. Keep the conversation on them.
2. Keep the conversation pertinent.
3. Ask guided questions such as …

• Tell me about…
• What did you like best about …
• How did you feel about …
• What brought you to…
• What change would have made it better …
• What kept you from fixing this before …

Keep track of the number of treatment plans you change this week because of small talk. This will give you a window into how effective you are at small talk.
Your action plan for this week is to review your small talk with patients. Does it result in better treatment plans or are you just shooting the breeze? Remember to look at small talk as a way to connect with patients and as a portal into patients’ lives. Your goal is to create loyal patients and focus the small talk portal by using it to improve patient treatment plans.

To purchase Jobson Optical Research’s Waiting Game report, visit: www.jobsonresearch.com/waitinggame

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