Putting the "Care" Back in "Healthcare"
- Brandon Betancourt
- Posted: 4/18/2012 - 9:38am
- 924 reads
Let's face it, customer service is really, really bad in healthcare. Sometimes, you get people that are nice, but for the most part, hospitals and doctor offices do a bad job of making people welcomed or comfortable or going the extra mile the way other establishments do.
Because the customer service bar is set so low, the good news is that with very minor changes, you can hit it out of the park with patients and set your medical office or healthcare institution apart from the average, mediocre establishment.
Before I begin, I think we need to understand that as healthcare providers (and I don't mean just physicians), we must remember that we are here for patients. There is absolutely no other reason why we exist in our healthcare provider capacity.
I make this obvious distinction because it seems we often forget why we are working in a medical office or why we work in a hospital.
OK, let's begin. Here are 12 easy and free ways to put "care" back into healthcare.
1) Acknowledge people as soon as they approach you. Say hello, good morning, say hi to the patient, make a joke, comment on their clothes; do something that acknowledges the patient or their family member.
2) Empathize with parents. Have a genuine understanding for their needs.
3) Resolve. Look around corners, go the extra mile, make that extra effort.
4) Smile, always. Even when on the phone.
5) Be on a Team. Remember, parents are on the same team as us. Don’t take the stand, "...this is how it is, so, you either like it or not." The relationship with parents is a partnership. Try to help them understand why we have to do what we have to do.
6) Say: please, I apologize, unfortunately, unable... find words that don’t sound as bad. Sometimes we do have to say no, but how we say it makes a huge difference.
7) Take responsibility and ownership for the practice, its policy, and its members. Don’t insinuate, “It is the doctor’s policy,” suggesting, I have nothing to do with this, I’m just letting you know. On the contrary, the practice ought to be yours as much as it is others. It is YOUR place of work. Embrace everything about it.
8) Perception is everything. It doesn’t matter if you think you are not being rude or you said something the right way. If the parent’s interpretation or perception does not jive with what you intended, then try again, because you are not doing a good job of communicating.
9) Frame the situation. If you say, “well, this is the policy and it applies to everybody and that is that” you won’t get a gentle response from an irate parent. Rather, you can approach the patient and say, “I understand why XYZ may concern you, but this is what we’ve done to ensure your concerns does not happen...” or instead of saying “It is the doctor’s policy not to treat patients over the phone” one can say, “I think it is best if you bring Timmy in today because it will be difficult for the doctor to make an appropriate assessment over the phone.” Or “the doctor would prefer to see the patient because that is really the only way to make sure and know what Timmy really has.”
10) Communicate and inform. Let people know what is going on. For example: how long they will have to wait. Also, offer water, a magazine or maybe ask the parents if they would feel better waiting outside where it isn't so cramped. The more people are aware of what is going on, the better.
11) Do your jobs carefully, but faster. If you need to enlist help, do so. In most healthcare setting, we have a problem with being on-time. Sometimes it is warranted, but other times it is poor competency.
12) Be aware of what is going on and act. For example, how long have people been waiting? Who needs what and when? What can I do to make the experience for the patient better? What can I do to help get this patient out of here faster?
If you think about it, providing great customer service is relatively easy, not to mention virtually free. How much does it cost to implement tip number 4?
But generally speaking, most of us are not very good at it. Now, I understand that medical offices are very hectic, parents often have unrealistic expectations and there are issues that go above and beyond our control, but try to remember that with empathy, resolve and enthusiasm, these 12 ideas can really set your medical practice apart.
(This blog was originally posted on http://pediatricinc.com/)
Brandon Betancourt is a business director for a pediatric practice in Chicago. He is a speaker, consultant and blogger. You can follow him on Twitter @PediatricInc or visit his blog at PediatricInc.com