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The five principles that a customer should expect from a surgeon

As a surgeon, lawyer or any other consultant delivering a service we have to remember one thing, without patients/clients/customers we cannot make a living. We are not entitled to treat patients. Our training has made us responsible for treating patients. Also treatment is not limited to purely the surgery.

I used to run the largest corneal transplant practice in Australia. Eight years ago, my colleagues thought I was insane because I decided to replace that practice with a pterygium removal practice. I had spent years developing the cutting edge pterygium removal procedure which has been published in global literature as one of the most ground-breaking and successful procedures available. However, I knew that to build my new practice and reputation, word of mouth would be one of the most important strategies for my success.

As a patient and a carer myself, I had experienced what it was like to be on the other end of the patient/specialist dynamic. And it wasn’t pleasant.  I recognised the fact that my patients are stressed by their problem, possibly frightened and uncertain about what is to be done. This is like so many other times in life where an important decision has to be made, sometimes with little time in which to make it, and which may involve significant personal time, inconvenience, pain and cost. This premise allowed me to develop my 5 principles of customer service, which have been integral to the successful change in my surgical focus and the development of my new practice.

 

Five Principles of Customer Service

  1. Recognise that patients have a “life” outside of your consultation room and respect their time. Their time is money just as is mine. I see them on time and keep them a minimum of time to provide a complete and comprehensive examination
  2. Recognise that each patient is an individual…not a number, not one of many, not a “condition” or a “case”. They each have special concerns, needs, and goals for their health
  3. Give the patient time with you, not with an assistant but with you, the surgeon, so that they can talk with you, understand you, and have their questions answered. So that they can understand their condition and the possible therapies and the consequences of these treatments.
  4. Uncover their hidden concerns about which they are afraid to raise spontaneously, or too embarrassed to mention. Raising these issues will allow them to “open” up and leave with no unanswered issues.e.g. the fear that their condition may be cancerous, or that they may go blind, or that they hate the way their eye looks!
  5. Above all else, remember that as a doctor, you are here to serve your patients and never forget that as too many doctors treat patients as though the patient is here to serve the doctor.

As a surgeon, lawyer or any other consultant delivering a service we have to remember one thing, without patients/clients/customers we cannot make a living. We are not entitled to treat patients. Our training has made us responsible for treating patients. Also treatment is not limited to purely the surgery.

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