What Patients Really Want: 5 Traits that Today’s Patients Demand from their Doctors

Long before a potential patient walks into your practice, there’s a good chance she knows all about you: She’s looked at your bio, she’s viewed your before and after gallery, and she’s read reviews from current and former patients who confide everything from their surgical results to your bedside manner.

On the other hand, you probably know next to nothing about her. Oh, sure, you may know that she wants fewer wrinkles, a flatter tummy, or larger or smaller breasts. But have you ever asked yourself what potential patients really want from you as a healthcare provider — beyond high-quality care and great outcomes?

The folks at HTK Marketing recently did just that, asking more than 1,200 people the following open-ended question: If my healthcare provider really knew me, they would know that _________? Broken down into five general categories, and in their own words, here are some of their answers:

They want to be engaged in their care

  • I am very concerned about my health.
  • I desire the best possible care for my family and myself.
  • I like being part of the team that solves the problem.

They want to build relationships

  • I like to be called back.
  • I need a lot of guidance and motivation.
  • I want quality healthcare from a doctor who can communicate effectively with me.

They want to know they can trust their providers

  • I want to make sure I understand everything they are saying.
  • I don’t share nearly as much as I would like to about my health because I feel like I would be complaining.
  • I am intelligent, informed and expect my health providers to be on my side — not the insurer or government’s side — when it comes to what’s best for me.

They want feel that that they’re respected

  • I care about myself and I will ask questions and I want answers.
  • I am not the passive, health-ignorant person they believe most patients to be.
  • I’ll talk if they’ll listen.

They believe education is empowering

  • I follow their advice.
  • I want to stay healthy.
  • Education means a lot to me.

While such factors play a role in all healthcare experiences, they take on added importance in aesthetic medicine. For one thing, patients have a wealth of choices, both in terms of procedures and providers; for another, most pay out of pocket. And as the 8 million monthly visits to RealSelf demonstrate, they’ll invest as much time as necessary to research their options.

Clearly, that’s a very different mindset than someone in need of a prescription or emergency care. Add in the emotional aspects of body acceptance and societal pressures and it makes sense that those considering cosmetic surgery have concerns that are anything but skin-deep. They are the embodiment of the concept of the healthcare consumer, hungry for information, actively involved in their care, and willing to “shop” until they’re confident they’ve found the provider who can help them achieve their goals.

As Marsha Hystead, HTK’s chief creative officer, put it:

Understanding what patients want from you and speaking directly to them about the issues surrounding engagement, relationship building, trust, respect, and education allows you to create a powerful emotional connection with them. That connection could mean the difference between them choosing you or your competition.

About Rob Lovitt

Rob Lovitt is a longtime writer and editor who believes every good business has a great story to tell. He has written for dozens of magazines and websites, including NBCnews.com, Expedia.com and the inflight magazines of Alaska, Horizon and Frontier airlines.

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