In a recent article posted on KevinMD.com, physician Jeff Kane provided a window into cancer patients’ dissatisfaction with their care, finding that virtually all of their complaints centered on communication problems at the medical practice. Among many contributing factors: complicated phone systems, the inability to have a live conversation, unhelpful office staff and inefficient medical record sharing.
At concierge medical practices, physicians are well aware of the pivotal role their staff plays in shaping the patient experience, beginning with a warm and welcoming office environment. Specialdocs offers these tips to help concierge physicians educate, inspire and empower their staff to provide the highest level of service to patients:
- Clearly define the goals of your practice. What reputation do you want your practice to have? What do you want your patients to say about their office experience? For many concierge practices, this may be the focus on preventive medicine and long-term health and wellness, which requires a deep knowledge of your patients founded on a strong relationship. Once you’ve defined your goals, discuss with your staff how these can be reflected in every patient interaction and office visit.
- Encourage your staff to exceed patients’ expectations. Patients who sign up to become a member of your practice value both the tangible and intangible benefits of personalized care. Greet patients by name, ensure a human voice on the phone as much as possible, and maintain the promise of no/low waiting times. They’ll notice. As Maya Angelou memorably said: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
- Build a relationship with each patient. This can be as simple as asking about their family, or as detailed as keeping a record of milestone events they’ve mentioned. Ask staff to jot down notes on each patient’s hobbies, interest, upcoming birthday or anniversary, and acknowledge them in future interactions.
- Emphasize the staff’s primary role as patient advocate. As the liaison between you and the patient, it’s often the staff’s responsibility to manage paperwork, facilitate referrals to specialists, or call in prescriptions to the pharmacy. Encourage your team to be proactive in all aspects…it’s important for patients to see that your staff is just as committed to comprehensive, personalized care as you are.
- Keep listening. Stress the importance of continually listening to patients to discover not only what makes them comfortable at your practice, but also what they would value in addition to what you already offer.