We need feel-good stories, perhaps now more than ever. This one, about a retiring physician from Arkansas, stopped me in my tracks.
Oncologist Omar Atiq, who started his practice nearly 30 years ago, decided to forego the remaining balances owed by 200 of his patients – to the tune of $650,000! Patients who had balances received a letter from Dr. Atiq just before Christmas with this welcome financial relief.
“I love them, I care for them, and I am glad I was able to do a little bit at this point for them,” he told the local news station.
What can we do in our practices to better support those in need?
Replace the patient giveaway with a charitable cause.
The coffee mug, T-shirt, or similar practice memorabilia you give to patients as a reminder of your practice is intended to help build your brand. Instead, take that money and make a charitable contribution (or have several and ask patients to choose which they like best) to a cause or need that is important to you. This will go further to build your brand as a reflection of your core values than anything with your name printed on it.
Re-imagine the office party as a volunteer day.
The annual office party is often seen as a way of gathering outside of work to celebrate. How about taking that time and having the entire practice together volunteering to help a local organization? This will go further to build your team and cement your culture than a party or fancy luncheon.
Re-think how and why you provide services to those who cannot afford them.
While Dr. Atiq had rightfully earned that money owed from services performed, his act of compassion serves as a simple yet profound illustration that sits opposite to “the need for more” that affects so much of society. He sets an incredible example, especially for him and his wife’s four children, each of which is on track to become doctors themselves. Thank you, Dr. Atiq!