The Impact of Patient Appreciation
Think of a time where you experienced dreadful customer service at a restaurant, auto repair shop, grocery store, bank, etc. How did it make you feel? Have you gone back to that establishment since? Have you deterred your family and friends from going there? If you are able to pinpoint a specific memory and still describe the encounter, you can understand the impact of a poor customer experience on a business.
When it comes to patient care, the risk is no different. The topic of patient appreciation is broad and there many different ways to define and unpack it, but ultimately it is centered around employee attitude and expressed appreciation for every patient who walks through the door.
Whether you are a receptionist, nurse, medical assistant, doctor, office manager, or bill collector, you have an important role in making sure patients are taken care of, listened to, greeted with a smile, and appreciated. Remember every patient’s circumstances are unique and you must be sensitive to the fact that they may be going through a difficult time. Attitudes are contagious and can either make or break someone’s day.
Start by thanking them for choosing your practice and let them know you are happy they are there. This is an easy one to incorporate into appointment scheduling, phone calls, check-in and check-out, but simply thanking a patient for calling or stopping by should be a habit from day one (make sure you look for these qualities throughout the interview process). If you haven’t done so already, add some gratitude to every telephone greeting to ensure conversations begin on a positive note: “Thank you for calling XYZ Medical Office. How can I help you?”
What is the best way to handle patients who arrive late? It’s extremely frustrating for the staff as it pushes back the schedule and irritates the patients who did arrive on time. A sincere “Thank you for making it” after they explain the situation or within the process of asking them to reschedule can help ease the tension. Regardless, it’s important to always speak calmly and address it head-on with a smile.
You can continue the theme of gratitude and great customer service by encouraging the staff members escorting patients to their exam room by phrasing their greeting with “Thanks for coming in today, I understand you are here for…” and in the instance of an extended wait time, “Thank you for your patience, I apologize we are running a little behind schedule today.” This same positive, smiling, thankful attitude should follow the patient all the way to the checkout desk where they make payment and schedule their next appointment. Thank patients again for coming in, thank them again for their patience if they had to wait, and thank them for making their payment and scheduling another appointment.
We encourage you to take these suggestions and bring them into your practice. See the ripple effect take place, and watch your patient satisfaction scores and referral rates skyrocket. You choose your attitude every moment, and the simple tool of choosing to change to an attitude of thankfulness is not only life-changing on an individual level, but will also transform your practice.
By NANCY FOWLER
Clinical Account Manager
Nancy is a Kansas City native who is always looking to hire Nurses, Medical Assistants, Medical office professionals and others on behalf of her clients. When she isn’t working Nancy enjoys cooking, playing with her two dogs and when possible– scuba diving!
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