Is it time to revitalize customer service in healthcare?

As a healthcare provider, it’s imperative that you are evaluated by your patients based on the quality and level of care you provide. Surprisingly, the quality and level of care you provide is not the only factor determining your patients’ feelings about your service.

Whether you recognize it or not, your patients are customers, who expect to be treated in certain ways. As customers, they know when they receive good customer service and they know when they receive bad customer service.

If you want to revitalize your medical organization, you first master customer service. To do this, healthcare providers, clinics, urgent care centers, and hospitals should develop, define, and maintain the mission of the patient experience provided.

The experience of your patients includes all phases of interactions with your healthcare facility. Many patient experiences begin with a phone call to your office, or by the patient viewing of your website. A patient experience is influenced by interactions with your staff and the look and feel of your facility. In addition, their experience does not end when they leave, but it repeats itself over and over again.

Below, I’ve put together a few thoughts on how you can develop a superior experience for your patients. These four thoughts are ideal to creating the idea situation for your customers.

Create and plan a patient experience.
To create an effective and pleasant “patient experience,” you put yourself in your patients’ shoes. Define the phases of interactions that they might experience in inquiring about your services. Create a flow chart for each origination point in your phases of interactions then carefully evaluate each interaction along the way.

Define the “patient experience” you seek to provide at each interaction.
Look at your flow chart and determine the elements your office (including staff) provides, to offer the patient experience you seek to provide. For example, perhaps a patient’s first interaction with your practice is a phone call to your office. Define the standards of that experience. Specify how you want your receptionist to answer the phone, how long he may put a patient on hold for and whether or not you want your receptionist to seek permission to call your patients by their first name. Defining these standards and meeting them will ensure a positive patient experience for your clients at this stage of interaction. Complete this analysis for each phase of interaction and you’ll have a planned patient experience.

Assign responsibility for implementing your patient experience.
Settings rules and standards for the customer service offered to your patients are only effective if you enforce those rules and standards. Select one staff member in each department to be accountable for the patient experience at their designated stage in the phases of patient interactions. Holding staff members accountable will help encourage them to uphold the standards you have set.

Why is it beneficial to develop a patient experience?
Developing a patient experience is important to your practice because it allows you to measure the quality of the services you offer. If you are falling below your set standards, your patient surveys will reflect it when they describe experiences that don’t match the patient experience you seek to provide.

A consistent and pleasant experience will also improve your reputation in the marketplace… and in some cases; it might significantly impact your cash flow. A reputation like that is sure to grow your practice and help you reach your professional and healthcare goals.