Patient-customer service, to put it mildly, is an opportunity for improvement. Yet, most of the things that bug patients before during and after the visit can be fixed by the doctor and care team. Everyone knows that patients are angry when they have to wait, when the doctor is late and sick care billing and collection makes patients angry.
So, what is the etiology and treatment? If everyone knows there is a problem, why doesn't your doctor treat it?
1. They don't care because quality of care is their first priority, not quality of service or experience.
2. They don't always have control over dysfunctional systems that are the root cause.
3. They don't have customer-patient service knowledge, skills and attitudes because they were not provided and measured during their training
4. They have role models and mentors that have bad customer-patient experience skills
5. They are not that empathic and rate low on other emotional intelligence parameters that are associated with excellent customer service professionals. It certainly is not reason they were accepted to medical school.
6. They are few motivations or incentives to do it
7. Particularly for those working as employees, the care team is smokestacked into care deliverers, nurses and clerks , all answering to different bureaucracies. leadership and incentives
8. Doctors don't want to spend the money on fixing things and don't see the return on investment
9. They have not made patient-customer service a habit
10. They are increasingly disengaged
The treatment is in changing physician behavior and making patient-customer service a habit. That takes some internal motivation to want to change, being sensivitive to triggers, providing resources, education, tools, and metrics (on time arrival APP?) and rewarding the desired behavior as soon as possible after doing something positive, with a high liklihood that staff will be rewarded if they do the right thing with something they value. The reward might not always be money. It could be unlimited vacation time or concierge services.
Making customer-patient service a habit should be as commonplace as checking vital signs as part of a physical exam. It starts the first day of medical school .
Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is the President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs at www.sopenet.org