Accentuating the CARE in Healthcare
By Medline Newsroom Staff | March 2, 2017
Some have said that any business with customers is in the “people” business, so providing quality customer service is a critical component of running a successful organization. In healthcare, service holds even more weight on a provider’s success, as patient experiences do not solely ride on treatments and outcomes. Patient surveys indicate that customer service is nearly of equal importance as the provided health services.
A study from the Health Industry Distributors Association (HIDA) showed that nearly 50 percent of patients say healthcare providers failed to meet their expectations. An unhappy patient will simply switch providers if the care received is not living up to their expectations.
Understanding the importance of customer care and the overall patient experience, Surgical Care Affiliates reviewed the best customer service practices of leading organizations to develop habits for achieving quality customer support in healthcare settings. Surgical Care Affiliates is one of the largest ambulatory surgery center (ASC) and surgical hospital providers with more than 200 facilities around the country. The organization shared a few key insights from their research in the latest issue of Medline’s Outpatient Outcomes magazine.
- Make a connection: Smile and introduce yourself to patients and family members. This may seem like a given, but it doesn’t always happen.
- Set the expectation of service: Share with the patient what will happen, when it will happen and about how long it will take.
- Say thank you: Within days of providing care, send the patient a thank you note with handwritten messages from staff members.
Surgical Care Affiliates took a closer look at customer service as ASCs are a rapidly growing healthcare segment. Ambulatory care offers patients convenience and a strong track record of high quality care at reduced costs. In 2014, over 5,400 ASCs treated 3.4 million fee-for-service (FFS) Medicare beneficiaries. Medicare program and beneficiary spending on ASC services was over $3.8 billion.
Beyond costs and conveniences, Surgical Care Affiliates realized that empathy plays an equally important role in how staff communicates with patients. Staff must understand what each patient in going through. Many patients have taken off work, they may be hungry or thirsty due to fasting prior to surgery, or arrived early in the morning only to wait a bit for a room. Others may feel vulnerable or nervous about their upcoming procedure. Knowing and understanding why patients may be scared or irritated is key, as is making sure staff members are empathetic and engaged with patients.
Establishing a great company culture and positive experiences for your staff is also of utmost importance. Facilities need to work on a daily basis to create an environment that welcomes office dialogue – especially feedback on how to continuously improve the team’s service. Employees should be rewarded for great work and valued for the difference they make every day.