Apparently, a foot massage is a very touchy subject so I thought I would throw it out there for discussion.
I recently posted on Facebook about my dental appointment. During this appointment, the staff 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 got a quick challenge from 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 have worked in and with many successful practices, and never thought our profession was oppressed. In my 30-plus years of giving foot massages to very appreciative patients, there was never one who came to our office because he or she confused the podiatrist 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 that were provided.
We used this time to treat and educate our patients, simply because awareness can lead 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. However, businesses can achieve customer service in many ways. When I get the oil changed, I am offered a copy of USA Today and I do not mistake the mechanic for a newsstand. Coffee shops include Wi-Fi. I am aware they specialize in lattes, not Internet technology.
Does it challenge podiatry’s identity 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 we can deliver both simultaneously.
If defining the podiatric profession depends upon whether we choose to add a foot massage as an extra customer service, then we are in trouble. It makes our patients happy and the smiles on their faces mean we have not only touched their soles but their souls as well. In the end, isn't that what patient care is all about? My view is there is nothing bad about feeling good during an office visit. This is just my opinion. What are your thoughts?