In a crowded field of physicians, what makes you stand out? There’s no doubt a good bedside manner can help. A friend was astounded recently when a specialist she met for the first time gave her his cell phone number after the consultation and asked her to contact him with any questions. She subsequently texted him twice and he texted her right back with guidance and answers.

When you first see a new patient, there is that immediate summing up of the person right in front of you. In fact, research shows that it takes only seconds for us to make up our minds about people. Dr. Alexander Todorov, a Princeton University psychology professor, says we infer a lot of information about personality from other people’s faces, but those conclusions may not be accurate, and in fact, our first impressions are often wrong. A doctor who takes the time to talk to a patient, looking them in the eye, should make a good first impression.

Patients want to find a doctor who is caring and compassionate, who seems interested in them and willing to listen. They also put a lot of credence in other people’s opinion of that doctor. According to a Nielsen study, more than eight-in-10 global respondents (83%) said they completely or somewhat trust the recommendations of friends and family. But trust isn’t confined only to those in their inner circle. In fact, two-thirds (66%) say they trust consumer opinions posted online too. So, having satisfied patients and keeping them that way is key.

Obviously, patients prefer to go to those doctors in their network and whose offices are located conveniently. If a patient needs a specialist, their primary care doctor is a good source of opinion on who to trust with a specific condition.

Patients pick up on the ambience of a facility/practice quickly. Front office staff often make a good or bad first impression. Waiting too long to see a doctor can leave a bad taste in one’s mouth, especially if they see pharmaceutical reps march right through the waiting room into the doctor’s office while they’ve been waiting an hour.

With concierge medicine, or the direct primary care model, patients pay an annual retainer fee to have longer visits and easier access to their doctors, but this can end up being quite expensive. At the end of the day, a doctor’s performance and their medical skills will net the happiest patients.