Skip to content
Finance options are available on all products online.

For Finance Options over $10K, please call our Sales Team on 1800 141 141.

My Account

Shopping Cart

Total (ex. GST)

Shipping, taxes, and discounts calculated at checkout

View Cart

How to Greet Patients The Right Way

Even though greeting patients isn’t a tricky thing to figure out, it can have a tangible impact on your business’s reputation. It’s worth putting a proper system in place to get it right every time.

Greeting patients the right way

The Importance of Greeting Patients

Greeting patients the right way is one of those finer details that is often overlooked in the healthcare industry. It makes a big difference to the patient when doctors and the people who work for them take the time to welcome them in a way that is warm and welcoming.

Imagine walking into an office where everyone in the clinic greeted you with a smile and a friendly "hello!" That little word can make someone feel so much more relaxed.

Considering how uncomfortable some people are with specialists like dentists, day surgery, and surprisingly, even massage therapists, setting the tone when they first arrive is quite a big deal.

If you're reading articles about how to greet patients, then chances are you're looking for a framework to make sure you do it the right way. That's what this article will aim to present.

So, without any further ado, let's get into it.

Creating a Positive First Impression

smiling receptionist
Meeting patients with a genuine smile can go a surprisingly long way.

Addressing patients by their first name

There's an anecdotal "fact" that most patients, especially those under the age of 65, prefer their doctors to call them by their first name.

Even though we can't be sure the statement is 100% true, it's a bit of a no-brainer. The only time someone calls you by your full name is when you're in trouble or the occasion is formal. And despite the often serious nature, medical treatment shouldn't feel like a formal occasion.

There is a bit of psychology behind this tactic. Using a patient's first name, especially if it's their "preferred name" (i.e. Dan vs Daniel), makes the patient feel like they're being treated the same way they would by a friend, creating a more relaxed baseline for the interaction.

Start with a quick "How are you going?"

Greeting a patient, even just saying hello, and a practitioner asking, “How are you going?” is the most simple and straightforward way to build a personal connection.

Sometimes, the answer will be "no good" or may lead to a deeper conversation about the reason for the appointment, but it's a great starting point. It's also just the Australian way of opening a light-hearted conversation and giving someone an opportunity to let you in on their struggles.

Effective Greeting Strategies

greeting patients
Starting with a proper introduction sets a relaxed but professional tone.

Starting a Conversation

Let's break the greeting process down.

  1. Introduce yourself.

It sounds simple, but there are a few things to consider when introducing yourself. You want to convey yourself as an approachable and knowledgeable practitioner while maintaining professionalism.

The goal is to make them feel comfortable with you and encourage them to share any relevant information about their health history that may affect their treatment.

Smiling medical practitioner
Facial expressions are a subtle cue that can make a patient feel welcomed.

I suggest you:

  • Provide a warm, friendly smile when you meet your patient
  • Extend your hand for a handshake.
  • Look the patient in the eye
  • Be conscious of your body language
  • Give the patient your undivided attention
  • Ask them how they are doing.

You should also get into the habit of listening while making eye contact. This will show your patient that you are interested in listening and being present for them.

  1. Use open-ended statements to create a more meaningful conversation.

You want to avoid questions that only require a "yes" or "no" answer. Instead, ask questions that encourage the patient to provide more detailed answers.

i.e. "What made you decide to come in today?". This kind of question works well because it opens the door for a deeper answer and gives you better insights into the patient's concerns.

Smiling doctor
Being able to communicate effectively is a big part of greeting a patient.

Where possible, when your patient is talking, try to listen actively without interrupting and give them some kind of empathetic feedback (like a small head nod).

Avoid looking at your phone or computer during the conversation.

  1. Build a personal connection.

When you’re meeting a patient for the first time, you’re essentially a stranger to them. You will need to break the ice and let them see a warm and personable side of you. The best way to do that is to find common ground and show a genuine interest in them.

Forming a connection on a personal level is a way for you to show that you are approachable. It might come as a surprise, but practitioners of every modality can be intimidating to some patients.

Ask them about their kids, what they did on the weekend, their sports team or anything they seem to be passionate about.

This is the quickest way to form a personal bond with the patient. When you show that you are genuinely interested in what they have to say, it helps to build a strong foundation for trust and a long-lasting doctor-patient relationship.

Implementing Best Practices

Medical team greeting patients
Your staff can start the greeting process in the reception area.

Training Staff to Greet Patients

Here are a few greeting tactics your team can get involved with.

Implementing a name-based patient queuing system

Having your receptionist team use a name-based patient queuing system might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s actually super important in making a patient feel well received.

Addressing your patients by their first name gives them a sense of familiarity and makes them feel comfortable with the whole experience. It’s really not hard to do and can help make the whole visit more comfortable.

Once they know that you and your staff know their name, it will go a long way in making the patient feel at home in your clinic.

Having a dedicated person to greet patients and handle their details can create a positive experience.

distracted receptionist
Having a dedicated person in the waiting room to greet patients is a solid strategy.

Having someone dedicated to greeting patients and managing their details can create a better experience for the patient.

For first-time patients, it can be a bit of a weird experience walking into a practice and not knowing who to talk to. The person assigned to this role really needs to lead the way and start the conversation. If they've got their head down doing other stuff, the patient will probably assume they're not the right person to speak with.

Instead, having someone there to greet patients with a smiling face and ask how their day is will make a big difference in how they feel when they walk in.

Gathering patient information, including their name, phone number, and reason for visit, to personalise the experience.

Personalising conversations with patients can be a really nice touch when coming from your team. The general idea here is to record "peripheral" details about a patient like how far they needed to travel to arrive in your clinic, what their interests are, and what their problems are.

Once you've got these details written down, it's just a matter of your team greeting the patient and asking "how was your drive in from the farm today?", or, "how is your leg today?".

Putting yourself in the patient's shoes shows them your team remember who they are and has some insights into their life. It's almost like being a regular at a cafe and having the barista remember your coffee order.

Measuring Success

medical guys looking at a chart
Don't just expect that your patient greetings will be magically fixed.

Tracking Patient Satisfaction

If you're committed to really nailing your patient greeting processes, then it's worth measuring if you're moving the needle in the right direction. Here are a couple of ways to do that.

Conduct an initial assessment of your practice environment

Pretending to be patient and walking through your practice is a great way to assess if you're doing things the right way. It’s easier to see disorder and inefficiencies when you’re not focused on your own responsibilities.

Maybe that means you need to make an area of the practice more welcoming or that someone needs to be more personal when speaking with the patient.

Look for any aspect of your practice that might be a bit of a turnoff for the patient. It’s also a great idea to ask your staff what they think about how patients are received. They’re the ones in the trenches, and they work with patients all day, so they’ll have a pretty good idea of what makes a patient feel well-received.

Record the percentage of patients who were greeted warmly, treated respectfully, and offered help with forms and other tasks.

If you're fully commited to having a wonderful greeting culture, it's worth while recording how many patients weren’t greeted warmly or weren’t offered help with forms and other tasks.

How you actually manage this will require some creativity because the definition of a "warm greeting" is pretty loose. The best approach is to survey patients after they've been seen.

Track the percentage over time to measure progress and improve patient satisfaction.

You can’t find out the truth about your practice environment from one day of observing. It’s better to look at the percentage over a longer period. At least a few months of data would give you an idea of how successful your plans are.

Even though patient greetings are largely an emotional connection shrowded in emotion, there's no reason you can't be scientific in your approach to improving.


Greeting patients the right way boils down to a warm introduction, starting an easygoing and open conversation, and personalising future conversations.

It's not always an easy process to get right, but can be improved over time if you commit to measuring your practice's performance and trying new ways to make patients feel welcome.