Healthcare reform is placing the relationship between the patient and the medical practice front and center in hopes of improving compliance and clinical outcomes.   It’s all about strengthening the relationship between patients, their physicians and the entire practice and making patients feel valued.  Although physicians are working hard to strengthen their relationship with the patients, the staff seems to fall short.

In 2013 Capko & Morgan conducted a patient satisfaction survey that spanned five metro areas of the U.S.  It revealed staff is falling short on making patients feel valued by their practices.  37% of the respondents felt the staff performed only adequately in terms of making them feel valued and respected, another 7% rated staff poorly, and suggesting there is much room for improvement.  So what can you do to get staff on board with providing a better patient experience?

Talk about it.     Help staff understand that they are a reflection of the practice to every patient. It is an important role and they hold the key to making patients feel valued.

Build in accountability.   Schedule a customer service planning meeting with staff to collectively set some performance standard dealing with staff-patient interaction.

New Patients:  Every employee is expected to honor new patients and making them feel comfortable

  • Get rid of the sign-in sheet. Introduce yourself and make a statement that welcomes them or thanks them for choosing your practice.
  • Don’t just hand patients a clip board, explain why you need them to provide information and let them know you appreciate their cooperation. Thank them when they are finished.
  • When rooming the new patient give some information about her new physicians to provide important reassurance that she is in good hands.

All patients:

  • Greeted with a smile and by name within one minute of arrival for a visit
  • Kept informed of expected wait time in reception room and exam room
  • Before ending the conversation with a patient ask “Is there anything I can help you with?”
  • On the phone
    • Staff will identify themselves by name.
    • Callers will not be kept on hold more than 30 seconds without further communication
    • When taking messages, let the caller know when to expect a return call or what further action will be taken and when

These are realistic expectations, but areas where staff performance is often inconsistent.  If you can’t get these simple things right, it’s unlikely your patients feel valued and this is a very big deal!

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