In the medical professions, improving customer service means improving patient satisfaction and patient loyalty. This is an important area to focus on, more so than in any other business types, because basically it means that you’re practicing health care services in the most efficient, effective, and practical way possible.
An unsatisfied customer in a restaurant - well, he’ll impact the business by eating elsewhere, but no one’s life is at stake. In a medical practice of any kind, dissatisfaction can lead to disengagement that can be life threatening for the patient, and that can prevent adequate patient care.
In a very practical sense, if a patient doesn't receive a good quality of customer service, it can also impact the medical office’s bottom line. Having satisfied patients means loyalty, success in a competitive marketplace, and improvements in health care and health care delivery.
After all, patients are a strong part of the accountability equation in healthcare. Their selection of your medical office means that healthcare delivery is measured favorably. If you don’t receive a favorable measurement, you’ll end up with no patients. And regardless of your capabilities in healing, if your patients don’t come to the table, you can’t heal.
Attracting and satisfying patients depends on customer service. And customer service relies upon communication and accessibility. Of course when you do communicate well, you are satisfying patients. This leads to the attraction of more patients. Your accessibility to your patients and the broader community around you leads to a healthy business model.
So What are Some Practices Steps to Improve Customer Service and Satisfaction?
Timely service is key. Deliver service to the patient on your patient’s schedule. Eliminate long waits for lab test result distribution. Create a practice-wide goal of responding to patient questions, via phone, email, or in person. Don’t put off your patient’s concerns until it is convenient for you.
Scheduling is also important. Timing appointments to eliminate long wait times is practical and efficient for patients and staff alike.
Organization. Like timely service and scheduling, organization is a part of any successful business. In a medical practice this means delegation of tasks, time efficiency measures, and respecting the duties of others within your organization.
Peaceful environment. Patients and staff alike do not respond well to disrespect. And why should they? No bullying. We know that you’re not operating a yoga practice. But we can all learn from the serenity of yogis everywhere. Calm down, deep breath, no bullying, respect. Every employee should know how to address patient concerns and complaints.
Language skills. Sometimes even with the best of intention, words can wound or disregard. Non-verbal cues are also important. Make good eye contact. Use non-judgmental phrasing. Eliminate boundary markers between patients and staff.
Stay blame free. This contributes to improved language skills and a peaceful community. Speak clearly, use facts, not accusations. An employee may make a mistake once, but if that same mistake happens again, it’s just as likely to be the fault of the medical system or community in which he or she is operating.
Overall, we find that patient satisfaction is rapidly becoming a top priority for health care providers nationwide. Quality of care, quantity of care, these are bound areas, not separate from one another.
Providers are rewarded for good service as the nationwide Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services put into practice the Hospital Value-Based Purchasing Program, distributing funds to hospitals based on quality measures through the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems Survey.
Improving service is more and more about improving the entire cultural experience of a health care practice, including it’s efficiency, character, and patient outcomes.