Healthcare consultations skills: Using intent statements keeps them fresh, personalised and motivating
We did a mystery shop the other day at a local branch of a high street chain of elective surgery clinics. As usual, the greeting was lackluster, the warm-up non-existent, and the intent statement perfunctory.
I said I’d provide some samples of intent statements that work after a greeting and warm-up has been performed at the consultation.
Just to review, the intent statement has five elements:
Two examples of healthcare consultation intent statements
Here is an example of an intent statement that would be given by a patient counselor or assistant that was hosting the consultation:
“First, we’re going to have a little chat. I’m going to ask you lots of questions about you, your motivations, and any concerns you may have. Then, I’ll introduce you the nurse who will conduct your examination. After that, we’ll get together again for another little chat…Now, it’s completely normal to have lots of questions and to even feel a little bit apprehensive about the process. If you have a question, feel free to ask me or anyone of us at any time, that’s what we’re here for. You may not even be suitable for one of our cosmetic surgery procedures, but after the examination we’ll be certain, and if you are suitable we’ll recommend the best treatment for you. At the end, if we do recommend a procedure, we can discuss the finances and scheduling, if you want to be a patient. Does all that sound alright?”
That’s a fairly simple one that most counselors can learn to perform after a little practice. Here is another one they could use:
“Most people, when they come here, have a lot of questions in their minds before they come in. The first questions everyone has are: how long is the consultation going to take, what are we going to be doing while we’re here, and is going to be a high pressured sales pitch? So what I’m going to do is answer those questions first, and any other questions you might have, before we begin.
It says in the welcome letter that the consultation will take at least 2 hours, in fact the time you stay here is entirely up to you depending on your interest level, most people stay even longer than 2 hours though, because I’m not going to show you a typical eye surgery practice, I’m going to show you something you’ve never seen before: A customised treatment plan that is the safest and most comprehensive available in the UK. As far as what we’re going to be doing today, we’re going to be talking about your vision, we’re going to look at your current vision and compare it to the vision you could have after you have laser eye surgery.
At this point, I don’t even know if we have anything for you because I don’t even know if you’re suitable for the treatment. So we’re going to ask you lots of questions, if you don’t mind, just to see if we have anything for you. As far as a high-pressured sales pitch, we’re the most prestigious refractive surgery clinic in the country with an internationally recognised surgeon, so we certainly wouldn’t want to high pressure anyone into anything, and jeopardise our reputation.
Now, on the other side of the coin, we are a private clinic, so if you do see something you like while you are here, we’ll certainly help you to become involved. In other words, if you’re found suitable, I’m going to ask you to book a treatment date – which is the next step in the process. Fair enough?”
I suggest that practitioners (doctors, surgeons, nurses, optometrists, chiropractors, etc.) also use an intent statement that follows my five steps so that patients know what to expect during the examination component of the consultation.
How can you learn good intent statements?