Your Clinc and the Patient Experience

How many people in your clinic "touch" patients on any given day?  In this case, "touch" refers to an interaction, not necessarily physical.  Who has the  most "touches" in a given day? Is it the physician? a nurse? your billing clerk? the person at the front desk? Who answers the phone?  Now the big question: do you know how your patients are treated at each "touch" point?

It is easy to manage the patient experience when you are the only one interacting with the patient. But that just isn’t reality.  Every person along the way makes an impression, positive or negative.  You can be the most competent clinician in the world and it won’t make up for a negative experience somewhere else along the way (actually, it might for a little while but it will catch up with you).  I can remember switching from a dentist I liked because I could not stand to deal with his office manager.  The world is full of options and people won’t hesitate to change if they are treated poorly.  The sad truth is that you will probably never know; they just won’t come back.

What do you do?  Here a few ideas to consider:

  • Assign responsibility to someone.  Identify your most upbeat, patient-centric staff member and ask him/her to be in charge of "the patient experience".  This person’s informal job is to spend some time thinking about how your office can treat patients better.  Believe me, just asking someone to spend some time on this will yield great ideas and build momentum.
  • Solicit input from all staff members.  By asking the staff, you achieve two things: 1) they know that you are concerned with the patient experience and 2) involvement equals commitment – if you implement some of their ideas, they are more likely to support the initiative (plus you get more good ideas!)
  • Make it an agenda item at staff meetings.  You don’t have to have a formal patient experience seminar (although it isn’t a bad idea).  Just talking about an item at each staff meeting plants the seed in your team’s mind.  Sharing ideas, encounters and opportunities makes it real for everyone.  Most people want the patient to enjoy their visit.

Though PCA specializes in office medication dispensing, we also get the opportunity to talk to clinics about their operation and associated opportunities.  I’m participating in a number of clinic staff meetings over the next week or so and will make a point to bring back a few ideas and practices we discuss.  More to come!

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