Gaining patient trust is essential to the success of any rural hospital, but it must be earned and maintained through your service. Trust is an especially fragile part of the patient experience, and this experience is only as strong as the weakest link in the chain. Everything involving patient care must be safeguarded in order to earn and keep this trust.
First, hospital executives will benefit by continuing to work with the medical staff to ensure that they have the knowledge and commitment necessary to see that their patients are informed about tests and treatments. However, patients do not have to be involved in every minute decision about their medical care; rather, they must be educated and informed by the medical team about procedures.
This practice should be a given for any excellent hospital, but going the extra step can make the difference in patients’ minds. Hospital staff should treat patients as equals and not sheep to be herded in the direction of treatment. Allowing patients to feel fully informed and involved in their own care can bolster patient confidence and establish loyalty to a hospital’s physicians.
Patients have grown accustomed to the practice of being informed and at least somewhat involved in their own treatment. If you want your patients to return to their families and friends with stories of the excellent service at your hospital, their expectations not only need to be met, but patients also need to be blown away by the service!
Team members should be trained to interact with and guide every patient in order to reach the goal of superior customer service. When patients or family members ask where a lab is, they expect clerks to clearly inform them of the directions. But what if a staff member instead walked with the individual to the lab to make sure he or she arrived with no problems? Going beyond expectations is the sort of positive customer-service interaction that will stay in the minds of patients.
Another way to exceed expectations is to anticipate patients’ needs. Generally patients will be satisfied if they can get what they need when they ask for it. But let’s go a step further! How would your patients feel if the hospital could anticipate what they needed and already had it ready?
This could be something as simple as making sure that everyone in the waiting room has water and easy access to a restroom, or ensuring that patient rooms are at a comfortable temperature and that blankets are accessible without anyone having to ask for them. Patients and family members will be amazed when their needs are met without any intervention on their part, and they will tell their friends and family about such experiences at your hospital!
Ask yourself what you can do as a healthcare professional to exceed expectations. Remember that the patient experience is only as great as the weakest link in your service.
Effective customer service starts with patients’ first interaction with you, and patients often will rate an experience as poor, even if it was only the front office that did not treat them with care and respect. Take the time to find ways you can exceed patient expectations – and there don’t have to be drastic changes for anyone.
Small improvements from start to finish can drastically improve the patient experience as a whole. So take that extra step and improve your patients’ trust and loyalty to you by exceeding their expectations!