The cornerstone of healthcare marketing…customer service.
As a physician, you want to be evaluated by your patients based on the quality of care you provide. Believe it or not, the quality of care you provide is not the only factor influencing your patient’s feelings about your practice. Whether you recognize it or not, your patients are customers. And as customers, they know when they receive good customer service and they know when they receive bad customer service. It seems as though, in health care the concept of customer service needs resuscitation.
If you want to bring new life to your medical practice, you must master customer service. To do this, every medical practice, small clinic, urgent care center, and hospital should develop and define the standards of the “patient experience” they provide.
What is a “patient experience?” A “patient experience” is the series of interactions between a patient and your practice. Some “patient experiences” begin with the patient’s phone call to your office, or the patient’s viewing of your Web site. A “patient experience” is influenced by interactions with your staff, the look of your reception area, the feel of your examination room, and the overall appearance of your office. A “patient experience” does not end when your patient leaves, but it repeats itself when a referral enters the “patient experience.” And, you want lots and lots of referrals…they are the cornerstone of successful healthcare marketing.
How to create and plan a “patient experience.”
To create an effective and pleasant “patient experience” you must put yourself in the shoes of your patients. Define the series of interactions that your patients might experience in soliciting your services. Create a flow chart for each origination point in your series 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 your staff) must provide 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 interaction and you’ll have a planned “patient experience.”
Assign responsibility for implementing your “patient experience.”
Settings standards and guidelines for the customer service offered to your patients are only effective if you enforce those standards and guidelines. Select one staff member in each department to be accountable for the “patient experience” at their designated stage in the series of patient interactions. Holding staff members accountable will help encourage them to uphold the standards you have set.
Why is it beneficial to create a “patient experience?”
Creating 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 “patient experience” will also improve your reputation in the marketplace. You will become know as the physician in your community who is always a pleasure to visit, has exceptionally friendly staff and relieves the anxiety of trips to the doctor. A reputation like that is sure to grow your practice and help you reach your professional goals.