In an era that sees efficiency as the ultimate business practice, many healthcare providers are returning to old-school customer service techniques in their offices. Why? Because super-efficiency can sometimes have very negative consequences. Often times the price of efficiency is the loss of a quality patient experience. With the advent of rating programs such as Healthgrades, patients are able to look at patient experience information and determine if they believe an office will provide them with the quality care they want to receive. If an office rating says “highly efficient, very impersonal” that patient may look elsewhere for care.
Your office may have a very a successful operation - from reception desk to check out station, and everything in between - but if it’s lacking a human touch, you are jeopardizing existing patient relationships as well as potential new patients who are searching for the kind of care your office provides.
Efficiency often breeds the approach that everything is strictly routine, and that staff perform the same functions dozens of times each day. However, for the patient, this isn’t the case at all. To each patient, their health issue is neither routine nor common. From their point of view, their issue was serious enough to seek the assistance of your office, and they are seeking the advice of those who will care for them throughout the resolution process of the issue.
When efficiency is the primary focus of your office, the message being communicated to patients is that your system, or your routine, is more important than their concern or the care they came to you for. The feeling these patients come away with is that they are a part on an assembly line, interchangeable with other parts or patients. That kind of anonymity is disheartening enough that many patients will seek their care elsewhere.
Patients ARE NOT concerned with the efficiency of your office beyond their own experience there. A patient’s number one concern is the issue that brought them to your office in the first place. Because of the emotion involved while visiting your office, the patient’s experience is etched into their memory indefinitely.
Efficiency is a worthy goal, but not if it costs positive patient relationships. In your staff training, take the time to focus on training that includes empathy, open communication such as active listening, and genuine smiles. Creating a caring office will reap just as many benefits as creating an efficient one. For more information on improving patient relationships, visit the Solutionreach Patient Relationship Management page.