(866) TEAM-SOS

Apparently, a foot massage is a very “touchy” subject so I thought I’d throw it out there for discussion and get your thoughts on the topic.  I recently posted on Facebook about my dental appointment where they offered a paraffin treatment for my hands and… a foot massage while they cleaned my teeth! As a patient, I was blown away by their customer service and quite frankly, it did just what good marketing is supposed to do. I told 10 people who told 10 people...etc. My post was quickly challenged by one of my DPM readers, “we shouldn’t lower ourselves to providing foot massages. It sends a negative message to the public that the podiatrist is no different than the pedicurist. Things like this are why our profession is “oppressed”; constantly fighting for status.” 

I’ve worked in and with MANY successful practices and never thought our profession was oppressed. In my thirty-some years of giving foot massages to very appreciative patients, there was never one who came to our office because they confused us with the pedicurist.  We were very secure in the fact that we had a highly successful, busy practice because of the medical and surgical podiatric services we provided. We used this time to treat AND educate our patients, simply because awareness leads to better outcomes. This is critical in growing and influencing the type of practice you want. We also understood that educating patients helps build the reputation of our practices, the DPM, and the role of podiatric medicine.

Giving foot massages is not the way some podiatrists want to go; I get it! Customer service can be achieved in many ways. When I get the oil changed, I’m offered the USA Today; I don’t mistake them for a news stand. Coffee shops include Wi-Fi; I’m aware they specialize in lattes, not internet technology.  Is podiatry’s identity challenged just because the staff offers a foot massage? Do we have to choose between providing quality medical/surgical care and/or quality customer service? My experiences tell me that both can be delivered simultaneously.  If defining our profession depends upon whether or not we choose a foot massage as an added customer service, then we are in trouble.  It makes our patients happy and the smiles on their faces mean we've not only touched their soles....but also their souls. In the end, isn't that what patient care is all about? My view is there’s nothing bad about feeling good during an office visit. Just my opinion. Your thoughts? 

Comments:

Administration
By Cha
June 07, 2012
Since going to the podiatrist isn't as routine as is going to the dentist, and depending upon the practice location, it doesn't involve a wide age group so most people do not learn of the positive benefits of seeing one. Therefore, I feel that offering a medical spa-like atmosphere and services could benefit podiatry by increasing exposure. Additionally going to the doctor would become a better and possible more enjoyable experience. Since most dentists get to practice outside the scope of the insurance industry they are better at re-defining the parameters of their practices and marketing becomes easier. I have read about dentists switching to this type of practice and I believe we will see a lot more as it catches on. Podiatry practices will always have some who think no more of the doctor then simply a pedicurist and it's no secret most people don't want to pay, thanks to managed health care, and until podiatry moves away from these insurance limitations, just like dentistry, they too may get more patients valuing their services while also offering non-medical services. This has the potential to deliver additional growth with added employees such as estheticians and massage therapists, with patients that otherwise may never have come into the office and of course additional revenue! This adds value on top of the doctors services and patients do pay for what they value.
Foot Massages
By Lynn
June 19, 2012
Thanks for your post Cha...and for your thoughts on the subject. It's really not a bad thing to stand out in the crowd. Again, educating our patients is key in building our profession so they understand the full scope of podiatric medicine and surgery.