Healthcare professionals should prioritize patient care above all else. Quality customer service in healthcare is critical for patient engagement and better health outcomes, but various factors can make it difficult to focus on customer service, such as caring for a large number of patients with limited staff. This article explores the impacts of low-quality customer service and ways you can enhance it in your practice.
Impacts of Low-Quality Customer Service
Healthcare employees are often busy admitting and discharging patients, documenting their care, and transitioning care between shifts. Providing unified and exceptional customer care while managing multiple patients simultaneously requires specialized training and resources. However, failing to provide patients with the care they require can lead to serious consequences.
Patients who do not receive the necessary care are unlikely to return to the healthcare facility, especially if they are new. This is comparable to a retail store experience; if customers have a poor experience, they will go elsewhere. On the other hand, satisfied patients will continue to seek care from the same healthcare facility if they have a consistently positive experience with the staff.
Trust is crucial in healthcare as many patients view their health as personal and stressful. Patients must develop trust with their healthcare providers before they can receive the necessary treatment. Failing to establish trust with patients puts the facility at risk of losing them permanently.
Positive word-of-mouth recommendations from satisfied patients can significantly benefit healthcare facilities. Studies show that 92% of consumers worldwide trust recommendations from their friends and family over other forms of advertising. Building a patient-centric culture can help leverage positive word-of-mouth promotion.
Timely and accurate customer service in healthcare can save lives and protect the facility’s reputation from legal action. Errors in assistance or incorrect information can have life-threatening consequences for patients. Providing reliable and efficient customer service can prevent lawsuits and protect the facility’s reputation.
Tips for Improving Customer Service in Healthcare Practices
To prevent the abovementioned issues from happening, here are ways you can improve customer service in your practice:
Train Staff Regularly
Regularly providing training to your staff can be challenging, especially when dealing with a large number of healthcare workers in diverse roles and situations. However, conducting training sessions can help your team refresh their fundamental skills and ensure that everyone is aligned with established protocols and best practices. This, in turn, can enhance the overall patient experience by promoting consistency across the board.
Improve Digital Experience
The initial step in the customer experience involves discovering the healthcare products and services that meet the patient’s requirements. To make an informed decision, many customers consider various factors such as reviews, referrals, recommendations, and advertisements from other providers.
As a large number of customers initiate their product searches online, it is crucial to optimize the digital experience for brand discovery. To achieve this, including social proof such as customer reviews and doctor credentials in your healthcare digital marketing, along with pricing details on the website, is a great starting point. A vast majority of customers are open to using chat or medical apps, emphasizing the importance of providing a seamless digital experience.
Choose the Right Software
Choosing the right software and upgrading those tools can lead to improved operational efficiency and smoother workflows for healthcare teams, ultimately resulting in a better patient experience, even digital marketing B2B. However, identifying the “right” software for your customer service needs can be a challenging task. The software or tool you choose should aid in process automation or better communication with patients. This may include advanced patient intake tools or effective communication tools.
When selecting a communication tool, consider the communication preferences of your patients. For instance, if they prefer using email or texting over phone calls, ensure that the software fulfils these specific requirements. By catering to their preferences, you can significantly improve the overall patient experience.
Enhance Patient Check-In Process
The patient check-in process for scheduled appointments or walk-in visits is usually the first face-to-face interaction between patients and healthcare providers. Patients form opinions based on the ambiance of the facility, the demeanor of the staff, and the efficiency of the check-in procedures. Typically, when a patient checks in for an appointment, they complete a health questionnaire and wait to see a provider. The data collection process and wait time for providers can be time-consuming and can significantly impact the patient’s experience.
To ensure a positive patient experience, hire staff with high customer service skills and conduct frequent training programs to improve communication and empathy, making them a caring and effective workforce. Equipping staff with the right tools and technology can also be beneficial in enabling employees from different departments like pharmacy, billing, test centers, or insurance claims to have a unified view of the patient.
Although wait times may not always be controllable, managing patients’ expectations can be achieved by implementing efficient customer support processes and systems that track wait times and provide patients with accurate estimates, demonstrating respect for their time. Medicare companies can also enhance background questionnaires to capture more information about symptoms, complaints, and health history, thus reducing the amount of time required for the appointment.
During the patient information gathering process, ensure that customer service staff and healthcare providers understand that they are responsible for patient records and to provide assurances that data is used responsibly. Healthcare customer service processes should address regulatory compliances like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), patient authorization for disclosure, sharing of data with family members or other providers, and managing interactions with health insurance companies.
Make Your Patient Portal Easy to Use
To enhance the patient experience, it’s important to prioritize the design of your patient portal. Patient portals that are difficult to use can lead to frustration and negatively affect how patients perceive your healthcare services. To ensure that patients can easily access their healthcare records, lab results, and other relevant information, you should focus on creating a user-friendly patient portal.
When designing your patient portal, consider elements such as a clear and easy-to-use top navigation, a simple and intuitive design, the ability to create an account for future use, and the inclusion of a support chat or phone number for 24/7 assistance. Moreover, ensure that the patient portal is easily searchable online to increase accessibility for patients. By prioritizing the user experience of your patient portal, you can help to ensure that patients have a positive perception of your healthcare services.
Consistency, above all, will help retain your patients and attract new ones. Legend DigiTech is here to help you in this aspect through software development, digital marketing, and more. Reach us today!