There are at least 30 ways to grow patient satisfaction at your healthcare facility, but 10 key service standards should do the trick.
Increasing patient satisfaction is challenging, but necessary to the success of a medical practice in an increasingly competitive healthcare marketplace. Identify low patient satisfaction scores and work as a team to design, implement and maintain solutions but focus on the patients, not the scores.
Setting standards for customer service is essential to improving patient satisfaction. The standards may be simple, but can transform the way in which staff interact with patients, as well as boost patient perception of the practice. There are actually 10 “top” standards on which practice staff should focus.
1. Smile and say ‘hello’ when patients arrive. This seems basic, but may be overlooked in many cases, if it is not established as an expectation of all staff. Everyone likes to be acknowledged.
2. Answer the telephone in three rings with a consistent greeting and no blind transfers.
3. Use the patient’s name at least once during each conversation. Calling a patient by name emphasizes that the practice views them as an individual, not simply another generic patient. Of course, calling a patient by name must be done only when and where appropriate, so as not to violate confidentiality.
4. Observe the patient’s communication style and respond in a manner that will make the patient feel comfortable. Empathy is critical. It affirms to the patient that you are listening, and care about what she has to say.
5. Explain to the patient what is going to happen next.
6. Listen to the patient without interrupting them. Silence is OK.
7. Look for cues that may indicate that the patient is not satisfied or is concerned about something. Be proactive in responding to situations. If a patient has a problem or complaint, answering ‘I don’t know’ is not acceptable. Find someone who can answer a patient’s question.
8. Respect patient confidentiality at all times. HIPAA is for real. Many, if not most, topics surrounding a patient’s visit are of a sensitive nature. Thus, staff need to understand the surroundings in which they are speaking with a patient, with an eye to preserving confidentiality.
9. Do what you say you will do, when you say you will do it. Set time estimates for patients and update them on any changes. Apologize for any delays.
10.When a patient leaves, say good-bye warmly and wish them well. If applicable, say that you look forward to seeing them again. This “closes the loop,” affirms respect and gives staff an opportunity to acknowledge the patient once again by name.
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