What Makes a Doctor World Class?

by Mark Epp

August 10, 2017BlogEngagement

There’s nothing fun about getting your wisdom teeth extracted, but mine needed to come out, so I “bit the bullet” and scheduled the surgery. Dr. David Rallis, University of Nebraska and Mayo Clinic trained oral surgeon, was recommended by my Internist as one of the best in town, so of course, that’s who I wanted to do the surgery.

It wasn’t surprising that the surgery went well; that’s the expectation we have of doctors, right? But what I didn’t expect was the follow up Dr. Rallis did himself. Not his nurse or office manager, the doctor provided a caring experience that, in my opinion, set him apart as world-class and why I’m telling this story today. Here’s my experience:

The same evening as my surgery, around 7:00 p.m., Dr. Rallis personally called me at home saying, “I’m calling to hear how well are you doing, Mark?” This made a huge impression – demonstrating that the doctor genuinely cared about me and my recovery. Fortunately, I didn’t have any issues, but this proactive approach allowed him to follow up on any concerns that might have occurred.

The call took about two minutes of his time. And maybe, most importantly, it established a bond of trust between the doctor and me, encouraging communication in case there were issues that might arise in the next few days.

This is a practice any physician anywhere can adopt to create world-class patient experiences. Here’s how:

Examine key elements of the technique:

    • The physician makes the call: Following a surgical procedure or dentist’s visit, we might have experienced someone from the doctor’s office call to check up on our progress, and that’s great. Don’t get me wrong, I love nurses (my mom was a nurse and father an emergency physician). But when the physician calls, we immediately feel the “heart” of the doctor. They are going above and beyond the Hippocratic Oath of “first do no harm,” creating an immediate, positive impact on our emotional health following surgery.
    • The perspective is positive: “I’m calling to hear how well you are doing,” is fundamentally different from, “I’m calling to see if you’re having problems.” He asked, “How well are you doing?” setting up a positive perspective for the call rather than a negative one.

Institutionalize this technique in your practice:

    • The physician’s front desk team can add the names and phone numbers of surgical patients to the physician’s calendar so that the physician can simply touch the number and dial the patient.
    • When the doctor is commuting home, this is a perfect time to make these calls.
    • Once home, chart any follow up needed for the patient.
    • Of course, some physicians are more empathetic than others (I knew a cardiac surgeon whose nurses called him “General!”). It’s simply the action of making the call, the patient hearing the doctor’s voice, which creates a positive emotional connection. And it’s well documented that an optimistic attitude promotes better healing, improved outcomes and added value.

This technique pretty much guarantees higher patient satisfaction, more patient referrals to the physician and a positive ripple effect throughout the community. It’s simple and very effective. Additionally, the doctor should be able to objectively measure the results through these referrals and better overall patient satisfaction ratings.

Look what one call did for me – I’ve written a blog post about Dr. Rallis and have already referred him to my wife, my company and now to all of you. Here’s to your good health and continued successes, Mark


Mark is the Management Consultant Director at Talent Plus where he aligns The Science of Potentiality ® to each client’s unique needs and support their growth. He brings potential to life through the practical application of our science and enables employees to prosper and organizations to succeed.

“There is nothing more satisfying than witnessing the exponential growth of an employee when they discover and express their talent.”

Talents: Ego Drive, Focus, Individualized Approach, Persuasion, Relationship