New technologies and nice amenities go a long way in creating a positive experience for patients and providers. But the things that really make patients happy are free. Below is a list of things providers can do—from simple courtesies to sincere empathy—that go a long way in engendering patient trust, referrals, and satisfaction.
1. Answer the phone.
Phones off during the lunch hour (or two) is not customer-friendly. And please answer the phone at 4:50 pm if office hours are 8 am to 5 pm.
2. Answer the phone and say “yes.”
Saying “yes” doesn’t mean you get whatever you want whenever you want; it means that our office will find a way to make it work for you.
3. Get rid of the phone tree.
Phone tree mazes are for large, impersonal companies. Give your patients a human being that can help them get what they need—fast.
4. ‘Train-up’ the staff.
Delegate more tasks using standing orders. Freeing you up for one minute per encounter may amount to 10% more face-to-face time with the patient.
5. Treat your staff with respect.
They, in turn, will treat your patients with respect. Get to know the families of your staff, and they will get to know your patients’ families. You as the clinician set the culture for your team. Take this responsibility seriously and it will pay dividends.
6. Recall a story the patient told you last time.
‘Pick up where you left off’ or ‘check in’ on that family story they told you about. The patient shared that story because it was meaningful to them. Enhance the relationship by listening. It shows patients you care about them.
7. Greet everyone in the room.
Spouse, partner or family members are there for a reason. You should even greet and shake the hand of the four-year-old child in the corner. Trust begins with a relationship.
8. Hold on to that handshake.
Hold on for just half-a-second longer, standing with an unrushed posture. Convey that the relationship matters with a simple gesture. Or a hand on the shoulder for caring emphasis. Depending on comfort level and personality, some providers even hug.
9. Tell the patient what to expect.
“Someone will call you within 48 hours of receiving the test result,” or “If the test result is positive, step two is…,” or “side effect X is common; if it occurs then call and we’ll go to plan B.”
10. Study the workflows of your office.
Promote staff efficiency. Less confusion and chaos lowers your stress level. Less stress conserves your energy.
Need help with your practice? Equality Health Network’s Practice Performance Managers can help. Contact them at 602.603.1533.