Treat each patient like he or she is your most important patient.
The golden rule is still golden. Treat your patients the way you want to be treated. Extend to them the kindness you’d show a friend or family member. Give each patient your time and undivided attention.
The litmus test. Those in your care should leave feeling that their well-being is important to you.
Patients are people with full lives and interests similar to yours. Don’t lose the commonality of your humanity by thinking of them as “the leg injury” or “the mole removal.” A patient in the examination room is at his or her most vulnerable. You can ease their sense of vulnerability through casual engagement. Be your best self—patient, empathetic, and friendly. Interact with the whole person.
Count the Cost of Poor Service
Losing a patient to poor service hurts everyone—the patient and your practice. That’s to say nothing of bad PR spread by a dissatisfied customer.
Experts estimate that an unhappy customer tells up to 20 people about a bad experience. In the social media age, 20 becomes 2000 in the blink of a tweet, Yelp comment, or Facebook post. Every patient is important in their own right. In business terms, every patient is vital to your credibility and reputation.
Ask yourself: Is it worth the risk of upsetting a patient?
Life’s Lemons are Sour
Patients can be nauseated, in pain, dizzy, confused, disabled, terminally ill, or depressed. They may have financial concerns or lack family support. Perhaps they fear losing their jobs because their conditions could prohibit them from working. The point is that stressors usually affect a person’s disposition, either ebbing into tone of voice or intensifying behavior.
Prepare yourself to respond to emotional fallout. The old cliché about turning life’s lemons into lemonade… well, it takes a little sugar. Stay calm. Be pleasant, encouraging, kind. You work in the healing industry—send your patients home feeling better than when they arrived.
Reflect on a time when you received poor service at a store, restaurant, or even a healthcare provider. Would you consider going back? Not likely.
What events turned you away from repeat business? Take note of them and ensure that you and your staff don’t commit the same offenses. Familiarize yourself with common patient complaints to establish protocols to prevent service errors:
- The employee failed to listen to the patient’s questions, concerns, and complaints, including failing to acknowledge family members who accompanied the patient.
- The employee failed to acknowledge the patient, such as when the patient arrived for her appointment. She did not inform the patient of service delays (the physician is running late, or the billing specialist is with another patient right now).
- The employee failed to greet the patient or introduce himself. He also failed to say “goodbye” or to thank the patient for his business when the patient left the office.
- The employee showed a lack of interest in the patient’s issue. She did not pay attention, and she ignored the patient. She had a disinterested look on her face while the patient spoke.
- The employee failed to follow-up with the patient after promising to get back to him with additional information.
- The employee was rude to the patient. She talked down to the patient as though he were a child, interrupted the patient when he was talking, paused the conversation with the patient to take a personal phone call, and used medical terms that he did not understand.
- The employee showed no interest in the patient’s situation and showed a lack of concern that the patient was unable to understand the information she was providing.
- The employee failed to provide an interpreter for a deaf patient or for a patient who speaks another language.
- The employee showed an unwillingness to help the patient, failing to direct the patient to the appropriate department or area when he looked lost or asked for directions, and further failed to help the patient or find someone to help when he was struggling to walk and losing his balance.
- The employee failed to explain required forms to the patient, including patient registration forms, consent to treatment forms, and HIPAA regulations, and simply handed the patient the forms to sign.
- The employee assumed that the patient knew all the provider’s policies when no one ever explained them or provided the patient with written copies of them, including policies about paying for services and procedures.
Patients pay your salary. Without them, there is no practice.