While it may seem somewhat counterintuitive to many people, a number of professionals have expressed a firm belief that the efficacy of medical care may indeed be influenced by superficial factors such as the medical office’s atmosphere or the treating physician’s personal appearance. The Hospital Group, though it believes it is preferable to invest in more pertinent issues directly relating to the quality of medical care being provided, has acknowledged that it may be possible that certain initial impressions could have a slight psychological impact on the patient’s confidence in the treatment they will ultimately receive.
Though the effect is likely very small, the fact that there is any potential impact at all means that medical professionals must be keenly aware of how superficial impressions may undermine their efforts to provide consistently exceptional care to their patients. In addressing these issues, The Hospital Group has advocated pursuing simple solutions that ensure patients are able to recognize the quality of care they are about to receive without being adversely influenced by some superficial impression. This also extends to the impressions made by the staff and other medical personnel, as a patient does not develop an opinion based solely on their interactions with the doctor alone.
In the same way that people form an impression of a person based on something as simple as the quality of the business card they present, so too do patients form an impression long before the moment they walk into a doctor’s office. As a result, medical professionals have to consider taking steps to ensure their patients develop an accurate view of the health care practitioners that will be responsible for ensuring their continued health. This means offering highly competitive wages to employees and providing consistent training programs for all the health care professionals who will be interacting with patients from the first time they call to schedule an appointment to the moment they exit the office or medical facility.
The Hospital Group contends that addressing all of the factors that contribute to an initial impression will go a long way to ensuring that the patient feels comfortable and confident in the care they are able to receive. Medical professionals will surely question whether or not a patient’s impression will have an impact on the efficacy of the care they receive, but it remains important nonetheless that patients should not have to wrestle with feelings of doubt during a process that ultimately turns out to be quite effective. Even if there is no real impact on the effectiveness of the care, medical professionals should still recognize that a patient’s individual perception is a powerful force that can influence the manner in which they recall their experience.
First impressions are undeniably important, even in the medical industry. Patients should expect to be treated with courtesy and respect over the phone and during any personal interactions in the office. The office or facility should be kept neat and clean, and the design elements and furniture choices should create a warm, comfortable and welcoming atmosphere in which any anxiety over the visit is alleviated as much as possible. As important as a comfortable environment is with regard to creating a first impression, it is equally essential that the office operates smoothly and that the patient is not forced to endure long waits without a reasonable and unsolicited explanation from a staff member. By creating a professional environment in which patients are treated well on a personal level before they are treated on a medical level, health care practitioners can take steps to ensure that the patient’s sole focus will be on the quality of the medical care they receive.