Customer Service Must Evolve to Deliver High Quality Patient Care
Industry experts share simple and effective tips for incorporating customer service into every aspect of healthcare
By Marianne Ostrogorski | March 2, 2017
Providing quality customer service is a critical component of running a successful business. In healthcare, it holds an even greater weight on a provider’s success. A Health Industry Distributors Association (HIDA) study showed that nearly 50 percent of patients surveyed 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.
Surgical Care Affiliates, one of the largest ambulatory surgery center (ASC) and surgical hospital providers with more than 200 facilities around the country, recently reviewed the best customer-service practices of leading organizations to develop habits for achieving quality customer service in healthcare settings. The organization shared a few key insights in the latest issue of Medline’s Outpatient Outcomes magazine.
1. Make a connection: Smile and introduce yourself to patients and family members. This may seem like a given, but it doesn’t always happen.
2. Set the expectation of service: Share with the patient what will happen, when it will happen and about how long it will take.
3. Say thank you: Within days of providing care, send the patient a thank you note with handwritten messages from staff members.
The convenience of performing outpatient surgeries rather than inpatient at the hospital has led to a growth in ASCs. They have 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. For Sandy Berreth, RN and ASC administrator, empathy plays an important role in how staff communicates with patients.
“ASC staff must always remember that the patients have had their days significantly altered with missed work days,” says Berreth. “By asking them not to eat or drink for an eight-hour period, we’ve taken away their food and beverages. Then when we tell them they need to be at the facility at 8 a.m. and they’re made to wait until 8:45 a.m. before they’re put in a room. Understanding how irritating that may be for the patient is key.”
Making sure staff members are empathetic and engaged must take a top-down approach. In order to create a great company culture, experts say staff must trust their leader.
“It’s about creating an experience for your team, not just a job. Work daily to create an environment that welcomes office dialogue and especially their feedback on how you can continuously improve the team’s service, says Renee Poppe, vice president of customer service at Medline. “Make being with your team a priority and most importantly reward them for great work by communicating how much you value the difference that they make every day.”
Read more tips for enhancing customer service in ASCs in Medline’s Outpatient Outcomes magazine by visiting http://www.medline.com/jump/content/pages/markets/surgery-centers/outcomes.
Medline is a global manufacturer and distributor serving the healthcare industry with medical supplies and clinical solutions that help customers achieve both clinical and financial success. Headquartered in Northfield, Ill., the company offers 350,000+ medical devices and support services through more than 1,200 direct sales representatives who are dedicated points of contact for customers across the continuum of care. For more information on Medline, go to www.medline.com or http://www.medline.com/social-media to connect with Medline on its social media channels.