- How was your experience at our facility?
- How long did you have to wait in the waiting room before you were taken in?
- How long did you wait in the exam room before the doctor saw you?
- Was the doctor engaging? Did he answer all your questions?
- Did you have all the relevant information you needed regarding your health before you left our facility?
- Did you encounter any issues at our facility?
- How can we improve your experience at our facility?
- Would you recommend your doctor and our facility to others?
All other businesses except healthcare, focus on the customer experience. They conduct periodic customer satisfaction surveys to find out how their clients are experiencing their service. They try to do everything they can to make their clients happy and hope that they get a good recommendation for their work. Even small and medium sized business use readily available and affordable technology to solicit customer feedback and identify areas of improvement in their business. So why is this type of customer focus an exception rather than a rule in the healthcare business? Why does every healthcare practice not have an Patient Relationship Officer (PRO), an individual accountable for patient (Client) satisfaction?
Healthcare is after all a service business. One would expect that the patient satisfaction would be the focus of any healthcare practice. Making it convenient for the patient to see their doctor, understanding patient issues, and delivering quality care would be the norm. It sure doesn’t feel that way. Patients experience long wait times, rude/ incompetent staff during their visits. They get talked down to and come away with a feeling that they have been done a favor by the doctor and his staff when in fact the patients are the ones who are paying for the services. But if not for patients, there would be no need for doctors.
Somehow it is very convenient for administrators and staff of a healthcare practice to blame the “system”, shrug their heads and say that its always been done that way. It’s as if this “system” is a nebulous amorphous entity that can’t really change, when in fact the “system” is made up of living breathing people, who have created policies and procedures that dictate how their healthcare practice operates.
Due to the shortage of primary care providers, the demand for their services is so high that many practices are not accepting new patients. Finding new patients is not a concern for them. The patient has become a replaceable commodity available in plenty. After all, where is the patient going to go? To another healthcare practice where the system works in the probably the same way? In any business when the demand for the product or service far exceeds the supply, there is no real incentive for the provider to focus on customer satisfaction.
Yet a focus on the patient satisfaction is precisely what needs to happen to deliver quality care and make this healthcare “system” work for the benefit of those who need it, when they need it. Great leaders within organizations do not waste time blaming the system. They go about changing it for the better. Great service organizations know that it takes effort and an unrelenting customer focus to deliver extraordinary service. I am sure that almost all doctors care about their patients and want to do the best for their patients. They are intimately aware of the inefficiencies in their practices and even have innovative ideas for improving the quality of patient care. Customer satisfaction surveys are a great way to get patient feedback, collect data, measure performance metrics, identify areas of improvement and implement measures that will improve workflow efficiency and ultimately quality of patient care. It also arms those in the organization that want to improve the “system”, with undeniable proof of what is working and what needs to be changed.