Patients have various preferences and complaints concerning the quality of customer service they receive from medical practitioners. As picky as they may seem, the truth is that patients’ expectations boil down to these five, interrelated traits which you should pay attention to when conducting your business as a medical practitioner.
Patients expect warm hospitality
Hospitality should start with and extend to answering a patient’s phone calls before the patient even gets to your clinic. When patients arrive, give them a warm welcome just like how you welcome guests into your own house. Make sure that the waiting room is clean and pleasant. It’s a good idea to try sitting in your own waiting room for an hour. This will give you a better idea of how conducive it is for patients who are waiting. If you are easily bored or impatient, then you have to find a way to improve your waiting room and make it more pleasant for your patients. Consider including more reading materials such as magazines for your patients to help them pass time.
Offer tea, coffee, bottled water, and biscuits to your patients while they are waiting. Modulate the volume of your television, especially if you are advertising services. After all, this can be rather annoying to your waiting patients. Everyone who works in your clinic, doctors, nurses, and staff members alike, should smile and be friendly towards each and every patient.
You may even consider designating one of your employees a hospitality ambassador who can serve as the staff’s role model. Alternatively, you could make it a rotating position among all your staff so that all of them get to train in hospitality management.
Patients expect an empathetic demeanor
When you show that you empathize with your patients, you are giving them a sense that someone cares about their situation. By showing them that you understand and want to look out for them, you gain their trust. Unsurprisingly, putting yourself in your patients’ shoes increases retention rates. More of them will also be more willing to comply and follow up with your medical recommendations. Showing empathy is wonderful for calming an irritable patient.
Empathy implies sharing, and not merely commiserating with, the emotional stress your patient is undergoing. This distinguishes empathy from sympathy. You can show empathy by acknowledging the suffering or complaint that the patient is telling you. Show genuine interest in their problem and ask them how can you be of help to their predicament. It is important that you express sympathy in a sincerely concerned manner and that you actually exert an effort to feel what the patient is feeling.
The sincerity of your empathy will manifest itself in the tone of your voice and in your facial expressions. Otherwise, your empathy will not be effective, or worse, appear as a sarcastic condescension.
Patients expect a pleasant attitude
Attitude is everything, and it includes cultivating an individual and institutional culture of enthusiasm, self-confidence, and thankfulness in your clinic. Enthusiasm is very important and goes hand in hand with hospitality and empathy. If you, the nurses, the doctors, the janitors, the security staff, and everyone else who works for you shows enthusiasm in their work, patients will also feel the radiating vibe. You and your staff’s words, body language, voice tone, and facial expressions must sincerely manifest enthusiasm, empathy, hospitality, gratitude, and self-confidence.
Whether it’s talking through the phone or after a face-to-face consultation, express gratitude to your patients for choosing to avail of your professional services. This doesn’t mean you have to bow and curtsey in front of your patients. Just show gladness and appreciation for their mere presence in your clinic and be confident that they will continue to choose to consult you. A lack of confidence and appreciation would lead to your anxiety over possibly losing your patients, and this, in turn, will affect the way that you conduct yourself. This anxiety is contagious as any disease and will not be good for your patients and your business.
Patients expect respect
You and your patients will not always see eye to eye on a problem or solution concerning their health issues. No matter how they treat you, however, you should always show them respect.
When they make a call or when they arrive at your clinic, ask your patients how can you be of help. Take the initiative of asking them instead of waiting for them to ask you. Notice how empathy translates to respect. During a consultation, pay attention to what they are telling you. After their consultation with you, do not simply leave them to pay for your professional fees. Ask them for their feedback about how you served them and what else they think you must do to improve your service. Respect is the shaper of excellent customer service.
Patients expect regard for their time
Nobody likes delays, particularly if it is a life or death situation or one where severe pain is involved. Always be on time. This also shows how you respect your patients’ time. Be transparent and explain to the patients the reasons behind your delay if you happen to be late. If for many reasons, your clinic or you as a practitioner keep getting late, you may adjust your office hours to meet the expected time of arrival of your patients.
Because if you are consistently unable to show up on schedule, your patients will feel that you are just wasting their time and they will consult another medical professional instead. Timeliness, along with respect, the right attitude, empathy, and hospitality, will buoy your retention and referral rates, and even boost your staff’s morale and their willingness to keep working with you.
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