Why Patients Don’t Come Back?
Most healthcare professionals care deeply about their clients and patients. Many have publicly made customer service a high priority. Many have made technological investments to speed people through their system. Many have posted aspirational signs about their commitment to service. Unfortunately, my real life observation is that message never gets to the people that interact with their customers.
I want to specifically focus on the medical delivery system because they are an easy target to learn from. I have personal and business friendships with quite a few doctors. I like them personally. I like socializing and playing golf with them. I like coaching them and I have coached many. I really respect their talents, wisdom and expertise. What I don’t like, is how poorly their patients are treated before and after the appointment.
So how about a few examples:
- Sliding glass windows between the receptionist and the waiting room. Please don’t tap on the window.
- The mechanical and uncaring cryptic conversations with the staff that is mostly focused on how you will pay.
- Signs that are frequently negative. Don’t do this, don’t do that. We don’t take this insurance…
- Confusing and frustrating phone systems with option trees where you can’t talk to anyone
- The new patient clipboard with the obligatory 12 page form
- The information loop battle between the pharmacy and the Doctor’s office
- The restrictive scheduling process where your schedule is significantly subordinated to the doc.
From my view, the answer and the opportunity gap is that patient satisfaction isn’t measured, supervised, and corrective behavior isn’t done. I don’t think this is because the Dr. doesn’t care. I think it is because he/she isn’t making it important enough to the front office.
Doctor offices are such an easy target, but I suggest to you that your business or business unit most likely has the same challenges. Listen carefully to your customers and ask the uncomfortable questions. Challenge customer conflicts to get a different viewpoint. Install a real satisfaction measurement system. Remove staff members that are not customer advocates. Start every meeting with a discussion about what the customer is saying. Put action behind your service commitments.
I really want you to succeed so please give this some action!