Every single person who is receiving your services is doing so for a specific reason. Quite often, you aren't the reason. Wouldn't it be nice if you were the first choice because you have a reputation of creating memorable experiences.
1. Speak to Your Patient by Name: As you introduce yourself, don't forget to ask how your patient would like to be addressed. From that moment forward, don't forget what your patient prefers. At this day in age, our electronic medical records are set up with the patient's legal name. Figure out a way to consistently refer to your patient with her preference.
2. Prepare Your Patient for the Unknown: Yes, you have enough experience to be able to foresee the future somewhat. For your patient, this may be her very first experience with her problem. If you were in their shoes, what would be nice to know? For example... let me share after a total knee arthroplasty. What concerns patients out? The pain medication... that clicky/clunk sensation... sleepless nights... those frustratingly tight compression stockings... the pain... the stiffness... the incision... fear their knee will just pop out of the incision. Before they even ask, educate your patients on these issues. It will be appreciated - and as what you tell them happens, you gain their trust.
3. Pay Attention to the Little Details: It isn't the big things that always create memories. New haircut... new shoes... not using the same assistive device... not limping... seeming more fatigued... seeming down... shoe laces untied... zippers unzipped.... shirt tags showing... drippy noses... putting their shoes and socks on after you just had the patient remove them. Mention what you are noticing. Do something about whatever it is you are noticing whenever possible.
4. Mints: Stop laughing. It doesn't have to be mints, but a candy bowl of sorts. Definitely though, a consistent little treat. Apparently, to all my patients, I'm the only place that always, always has wintergreen mints in a cool candy bowl. The first thing pretty much every single patient does is snag a mint out of the bowl either before we begin OR as soon as we are finished. I know it's memorable because it has been consistently mentioned over the years.
5. Stay in Touch or Follow Up: There is something magical when a patient receives a phone call from you.... or email.... or a card. You can hear the surprise in their voice when you give them a call wondering about how they are doing... or the results of their diagnostic tests... or what happened at their physician's appointment. Every year I mail a card and a lottery ticket to the previous patients who are veterans. Every year they come in, thank me, give me a hug and we catch up with our lives. And the cards... a previous patient passed away. His daughter mailed me a card I sent him quite a few years prior with a lovely note stating that I must have meant something to her Dad because he never saved cards. My card was tucked away in his top dresser drawer. I'll admit, it brought tears to my eyes. I have so many special patients and this gentleman was one of them.
6. Praise Their Progress: Number six is a bonus for you. I had to add it because it is one thing I do that brings smiles and chuckles. It is an element of surprise. For every single patient who has a positively sloping line on their FOTO report, I go crazy with stickers! It cracks them up and delights them. It takes them back to their far earlier years. They leave smiling, not just because they are improving, but because they had a little bit of an unexpected surprise.
Can you think of other ways to create memorable experiences?