I recently travelled to New York, and if you have ever visited the USA, hopefully you’ve experienced some excellent hospitality. America’s customer service is legendary.
This got me thinking about the parallels between patient healthcare experience and customer care. I am of the opinion that it’s not an entirely bad thing to think about patients as customers. Before you shoot me down, it goes without saying that they are patients, first and foremost.
Private practice, however, is more than just about looking after patients clinically. Private practice is the business of great care.
If you look around you, the clinicians who are making enviable livings are doing so because they also provide an excellent patient care experience. If your patients receive a ‘sulky welcome’, or if you are slow to send out information when it is requested, you’ve zero chance of receiving a review equivalent to a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence.
These are my top Private Practice Ninja tips for excellent patient care.
(a.k.a. ‘how to do it like Uncle Sam’).
Get you and your team into the mindset of actually wanting to give a ‘red carpet’ service and take pride in it. We can all conjure up the mental image of a self-important, sarcastic colleague who is indifferent to their patients. Be NOT that. It’s COOL to care.?
Remove as many barriers as possible. Think it all out for the patient. For instance, if you know that it can be a little tricky trying to find where your clinic is located, provide the patient with a PDF that contains a little ‘photo journey’. You can attach it to any email, and if a patient phones up to make an appointment, verbally flag up that you’ll be sending them a little visual guide that’s going to help them out. Encourage them to read it. Don’t expect them open the attachment themselves, even if it seems logical. Nothing peeves a patient more than circumnavigating a building three times to find the bleedin’ clinic reception.
Keep your promises. If you, or a member of staff say that they are going to get back to a patient by the end of the day with some results or an answer to a question, then make sure you do. Don’t leave them dangling with anticipation at 6.35pm, when you’ve left for home half an hour earlier.
When you’ve seen a patient, thank them for coming to clinic and tell them you will be sending out a letter detailing what you have discussed and the next steps. It shouldn’t have to be up to the patient to remember what was said.
Find some clever Ninja tips on how to do just that click here…
If investigations or tests need booking, make sure that caretaking is end-to-end. If you’re just two minutes away from the imaging reception desk, why not walk the patient to someone who can book them in, there and then?
You’re trapped behind your desk? Send a quick email to your med sec to set up the scan and then the follow-up appointment. It’s even possible to set up an email signature containing words to that effect or cut and paste your usual phrase from a Word doc kept on your desktop. Patients are sometimes left wondering who-does-what post-investigation, so make sure it is all taken care of, and they are ‘concierged’ through the process.
If you’re taking a patient through a course of treatment (for example, ACL reconstruction rehab), book in those appointment slots up-front. Patients feel much happier when they see that their clinician confidentially knows how to handle their care, because it’s all being mapped out for them. Like it was meant to be.
Stay in touch with your patients after their care cycle has been completed. This is such an easy thing to do, but so few people make the time to do it. If you know a patient has told you they’ll be participating in a marathon two or three months later? Schedule a note into your diary to follow up with them about how their race went. Patients love sharing good news and it makes a fantastic opportunity to ask for a testimonial.
Have a think about your patient’s journey and what systems and processes you can improve upon to give them an awesome customer experience.
You can also watch my video from NYC.
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