Customer Service and Loyalty in Medical Staff Services
Since the transition from fee-for-service (FFS) to value-based care, customer service in healthcare has been a hot topic among physicians and medical service professionals (MSPs). No longer are physicians to receive payments based on the quantity of care; reimbursements are now contingent on the quality of care—aiming to reduce readmission rates and improve patient outcomes.
In other industries such as hospitality, providing superior customer service is the backbone to their ongoing success. Today, to adapt to the rise of consumerism in healthcare and outperform competition, physicians and those at the forefront must focus on objectives and practices that improve patient experiences as well as patient satisfaction.
Recently, I underwent surgery at a major hospital here in Houston, Texas. My days there helped me gain a better perspective on customer service in healthcare and how it impacts patient care. Though I was medicated most of the time, there were a few things that stood out to me, both the good and the bad.
Be Responsive and Accessible
Whether patients are there for three hours or three days, physicians and nurses should address requests and concerns in a timely manner. In the event the physician or nurse is unable to respond promptly, they should be apologetic and truthfully explain why they’re running behind. In an inpatient setting, if the patient is calling for assistance, it’s most likely an urgent matter.
Develop Effective Communication Processes
Having a patient explain or make requests more than once can be very aggravating—especially when they’re in pain or highly medicated. Special requests should be verified and confirmed with the rest of the team involved in the patient’s care. Ensure they are carefully documented and easily visible for others to see.
Empathy is important in customer service because it allows you to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Though you may not know exactly what the patient is experiencing, it enables you to understand and share their feelings. Also, expressing empathy can help diffuse an irritated patient or even deescalate any problems. For example, one can show empathy by sincerely saying the following:
- “That’s awful. Let me see how I can help.”
- “I understand your frustration.”
- “I would be upset if that happened to me as well.”
It bears repeating: Be sincere. Otherwise, your empathy will be ineffective and may possibly make matters worse.
Follow-up with the Patient
A patient is not no longer a patient when he or she is discharged from the hospital. Make follow-up calls after a procedure to check in with the patient and make sure they’re not experiencing any problems, they understand how to properly take their medication, or even answer any questions they may have. “By taking this proactive approach, we think we’ve eliminated some of the patient calls that might have come in,” says Diane Zientek in an MGMA article. It can make all the difference in the patient’s recovery and outcome.
Does your healthcare organization focus on any of these key issues@f5 What are your thoughts@f6 Please share; we’d love to hear from you.