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Exceptional Customer Service Matters in the Medical Practice

Customer service in healthcare is crucial for ensuring patient satisfaction, enhancing the overall patient experience, and improving health outcomes. Instilling principles of people-centered services in all stakeholders of the practice is imperative to effective communication. Key aspects and strategies for providing excellent customer service in healthcare include:

  1. Patient-Centered Care: Prioritize patient-centered care, focusing on the individual needs, preferences, and values of each patient. This involves actively listening to patients and involving them in decision-making processes related to their care.
  2. Communication: Clear and effective communication is essential; equally important are speech, tone, and non-verbal cues. Healthcare providers should communicate with patients in a language they understand, avoid jargon, and actively listen to their concerns. 
  3. Transparency: Transparency about healthcare processes, costs, and outcomes fosters trust between patients and providers and makes actions more predictable for patients. 
  4. Empathy and Compassion: Demonstrating empathy and compassion towards patients, and understanding their emotions, fears, and concerns helps build trust and rapport. The ability to empathize with a patient and “put oneself in their shoes” often helps to slow down communication and allow for effective listening. 
  5. Timeliness: Patients expect timely service in healthcare, including prompt appointment scheduling, minimal wait times, and timely responses to inquiries or concerns. Set policies and procedures to address the expected turnaround times for each area and train staff on processes. 
  6. Resolution of Issues and Complaints: Promptly addressing patient concerns and resolving any issues or complaints is crucial for maintaining patient satisfaction and trust; ideally before the patient leaves the clinic. Establishing processes for handling complaints effectively and transparently is critical for patient satisfaction. 
  7. Accessibility: Healthcare services should be easily accessible to patients, both physically and digitally. This includes providing convenient appointment scheduling options, accessible facilities, telemedicine services, and ensuring that patient paperwork, office policies, and appointment scheduling are available through a patient portal or online.
  8. Patient Education: Healthcare providers should educate patients about their conditions, treatment options, and preventive measures. Empowering patients with knowledge enables them to make informed decisions about their health.
  9. Feedback Mechanisms: Establishing feedback mechanisms, such as surveys or suggestion boxes, allows patients to provide input about their experiences. Practices may use this feedback to identify areas for improvement.
  10. Training and Development: Healthcare staff should undergo training in customer service skills, which can cover communication, diversity, equity and inclusion, cultural competency, and conflict resolution. Continuous professional development helps staff deliver exceptional service consistently and build accountability.
  11. Collaboration and Teamwork: Effective teamwork contributes to a positive patient experience. Collaborative care ensures that patients receive coordinated and comprehensive services across different departments or specialties.
  12. Respect for Diversity: Respect the diversity of patients, including their cultural backgrounds, beliefs, and values. Understanding cultural differences helps in providing more personalized, inclusive, and effective care for all patients.

By prioritizing these aspects of customer service, practices can create a patient-centered environment that promotes satisfaction, trust, and positive health outcomes, and ensures the longevity of the practice in today’s competitive healthcare industry.    

Andie Tena is CAP’s Assistant Vice President of Practice Management Services. Questions or comments related to this column should be directed to