Customer Service & Healthcare

Was reading the latest version of Healthcare Executive by ACHE, and in particular Thom Mayer talking about specific steps to ensure principles of customer service in healthcare settings.  He talks about three specific steps, and they are

  1. Creating a culture of service through educational curriculum.
  2. Providing the staff pragmatic and easily accessible tools, and
  3. Ensuring process create smooth patient flow

Talking about culture of service, it talks about making customer service diagnosis along with clinical diagnosis.  It’d be along another sheet or a page in EPR where clinicians record things like what would be something we can do to exceed their expectation.  Or maybe we can add another question as what would be something we should never do to put off the patient.  Its a great idea, but it may seem bizarre to some clinicians.  These steps aren’t as radical as we may think, as all clinicians do it knowingly or unknowingly as a part of their daily interaction.  We all try to judge or read our patients.  These steps would make it more transparent and consistent.  It won’t hurt if clinicians pull out that sheet every morning as a part of their daily rounds, and remind themselves of customer service diagnosis/survey along with clinical one.  It can be argued that it would be hard to bring in physician/surgeons on aboard, but considering the competitive nature of the business these days it won’t be very hard.

Regarding tools, we would need to then to create pragmatic customer service diagnosis, and also infer from their results.  In case there is some complaint, then to resolve expectation and to give appropriate feedback to the concerned clinician.  Lastly, make the clinicians realize no matter how you plan, ultimately what happens at the time of interaction that matters.  Essential components of the tools would be the performance metrics based on the survey, and as a self-improvement tool during appraisal session for the clinician.  It can be used to highlight the areas of improvement and identifying trends on ongoing basis.  As as these metrics would be a part of their overall performance evaluation, it would alleviate any fears that emphasis on customer service would undermine excellence in clinical areas.

It also talks about adding value and eliminating waste as patient moves through the system.  This would require that clinicians be aware of the system map, and going beyond that should be planning well ahead how patients will navigate the system with ease.  Nursing staff in particular is more concerned or overburdened with their clinical stuff, but if they are provided with easy to use tools then it can work.  Such tools could be a graphical system map, a cheat-sheet or maybe a hotline they can call for information.  The tools should be such that they are supportive than another layer of paperwork.




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