Relationships are complicated – even under the best of conditions and circumstances. Factor into that the very challenging issues of navigating ones healthcare journey, and complicated is no longer an accurate description.
If you are a physician, we invite you to consider this question: Are your patients as happy with the office staff as they are with you?
If you are a patient, we think we know the answer.
Our research shows that patients assume that their physicians are, at the very least, an expert in their field. They trust their doctors to ‘know their stuff’ and be really good at their profession. They also understand that, like it or not, more time will be spent with the office staff than with the physician during office visits.
Our research also shows that while the staff is well-trained on technical, workflow, and task-oriented issues, they rarely receive training on interpersonal and communication skills. And these are the idiosyncrasies that can impact the patient experience the most. The actual patient experience is left to chance.
Doctors and practice managers routinely instruct all employees that patients come first. They may even emphasize that courtesy is a must. But what does that mean? The perception of courtesy varies greatly among medical professionals, office staff, and patients. Now more than ever, generational and cultural gaps are commonplace. Behavior that is quite acceptable to one group, such as the millennials, may be completely unacceptable to members of another group, such as the “greatest generation”.
As an example, technology has become a necessary tool in all aspects of our lives and the medical profession is no different. It is common for a receptionist to speak to a patient while looking directly at a computer screen. The lack of eye contact is often noticed and considered impolite by the patient. Patients end up being put off by the very behavior practiced by someone who is simply trying to help.
The answer to the above question (“Are your patients as happy with your staff as they are with you?”) is often publicized on Yelp!, Healthgrades, or other review sites. In your practice, if you find that the answer is often an emphatic NO!, you have options on how to proceed. You can choose to do nothing and simply hope that your patients are satisfied. You can hope there are enough patients out there to keep you busy, even when many leave your practice. Or you can find a way to fix the problem.
Through a Mystery Patient Assessment, Passion for Patients™ can help you learn how well your staff is really doing. Then, through a course of training customized to meet the needs of your practice, you can invest in improving the interpersonal and communication skill level of your staff. Imagine your world where the patients are as happy with your staff as they are with you!