Interactive items should not frustrate rheumatology patients or make them feel inadequate. For example, a touch-screen TV control is less painful and easier to maneuver than a small-button TV remote. Books or toys for children create a level of familiarity and comfort in what they could perceive as a stressful environment. “Because this patient population can be broad in terms of age and condition, it’s best to offer a range of interactive items; giving patients a choice also instills a sense of trust and ownership in their own care,” Ms. Woodworth says.
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Explore This IssueJuly 2015
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Pain Therapy Associates offers current magazines, including free consumer arthritis magazines that patients can take home. “We don’t display anything older than a month,” Ms. Roberts says.
Arthritis Treatment Center has three or four jigsaw puzzle tables set up, which many patients seem to enjoy.
Tips for Initial Contact
Along with a practice’s appearance, how staff interact with patients is equally important—beginning with the initial phone call. Dr. Wei, who despises voicemail, says during office hours a live person almost always answers phone calls by the third ring. The receptionist identifies the practice and herself, followed by, “How may I help you?”
“I think that sets the tone that we are a little different; it’s a pleasant surprise,” Dr. Wei says. Then, the receptionist obtains typical patient information and mails the patient a “shock-and-awe package.” In it, a questionnaire aims to collect as much information as possible so Dr. Wei can get to know the person beyond his or her condition. The package is also a way for Dr. Wei to establish his expertise and authority. It contains information that pertains to the patient’s specific problem, as well as patient testimonials, videos, DVDs and CDs that are informative and instructive. “It’s a fairly thick package that prepares the patient for the initial visit,” he says.
Lydia Ramsey, president, Manners That Sell, Savannah, Ga., suggests sporting a smile before even picking up the phone. “Smiles can be heard over the phone,” she says.