Monday, 01 July 2019

The Clinical Care Examination, with Nola Aronson M.A.

Posted in Insights from the Outside

Insights from the Outside is a group of practicing clinicians and practice owners. This is a diverse group from many medical specialties, including dentistry, veterinary medicine, cosmetic surgery, ophthalmology, audiology and optometry. This group was uniquely created by CareCredit for the purpose of capturing and sharing “best practices” to some of the common challenges all healthcare business owners face, such as attracting new patients, the patient experience, patient retention, social media, team training and empowerment and much more. Insights from the Outside is a group of practicing clinicians and practice owners. This is a diverse group from many medical specialties, including dentistry, veterinary medicine, cosmetic surgery, ophthalmology, audiology and optometry. This group was uniquely created by CareCredit for the purpose of capturing and sharing “best practices” to some of the common challenges all healthcare business owners face, such as attracting new patients, the patient experience, patient retention, social media, team training and empowerment and much more.

Q: One of the most important stops along the patient journey is the clinical care examination. How do you make this part of the patient journey a positive experience for patients — especially those who may be nervous or skeptical about the need for care?

Ms. Aronson: It’s very important to help the patient feel relaxed. One of the first things I do with patients is just sit and talk and give them an opportunity to tell me in their own words why they came to see us. I tell them a little about myself and then we review what they told the front office on the phone and let them add any additional information that might be helpful. Then I share what we’re going to be covering during the exam.


Q: Is there anything you do with the physical environment to help create a positive experience?

Ms. Aronson: I think the biggest way we use the physical environment to help create a positive experience for patients is in our waiting room. It feels like you're walking into a comfortable living room. There is coffee, tea, water and snacks of all kinds to help patients relax before their exam.


Do you have a system or process when it comes to the clinical examination?

Ms. Aronson: I start by educating the patient before testing them. I ask questions and we talk about what they will experience. During the test I talk to the patient over a microphone so that they know I’m there and I’m listening to them. Once testing is complete, I go over the results with the patient and get their feedback.


Q: During the clinical examination do you share information and findings with the patient and if so how do you do it?

Ms. Aronson: During the clinical examination I have a graph and pictures of the sounds the patient can’t hear and I go over the sounds with them and explain how it relates to their life. For example, testing may reveal that patients have what is called a high frequency hearing loss, which doesn’t allow you to hear certain sounds in the English language like unvoiced consonants. Because these sounds are in around 80% of our language — when I show them the graph that has all of the sounds on it, they can actually see for themselves which sounds they’re missing.


Q: Are there situations when the patient is resistant to your clinical findings or recommendations?

Ms. Aronson: Of course you have people who don’t want to wear hearing devices. They think that the hearing devices make them old. Luckily in today’s world we have hearing devices that are Bluetooth. And Bluetooth is very accepted, especially among the Baby Boomer generation, which is the generation we’re working with right now. They get really excited when I tell them about all the features and then I put it in their ear and then they can see how small it is and how it doesn’t show and it’s not this big thing that makes them look old — or means they’re getting old. Also price can be a big thing for patients. So we have devices in all price ranges and we offer payment options including the CareCredit credit card and that’s something that’s a very big thing for patients.


Q: How do you create a culture of trust?

Ms. Aronson: I’m very honest and upfront with patients and I don’t push anything on them. I always say, “I’m here to help you. I’m not here to sell you anything. I’m here to give you a solution to make your life better. That’s all I want from this appointment and that’s what you came to me for and that’s what I need to provide for you.” A lot of times when you give patients an in-home trial they appreciate the fact that I’m loaning them something expensive and I’m not asking them for the money right away. I think they trust more that way, because then they don’t feel so tied in.


Q: What is the next step you take when the patient doesn’t own their healthcare need and leaves the practice without scheduling care?

Ms. Aronson: Well, the next step is to call them within 48 hours and try to see if there are any questions you missed or concerns they may have that you can address. Simply asking “Is there something I didn’t answer for you? Is there something that you disagreed with? Can open up a dialogue and uncover concerns that weren’t shared during the exam. So I think the patient follow up is very important.


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