We’ve all been there. We work hard to do everything right for our patients to ensure their safety, provide care in an efficient and timely manner and leave them with a positive impression. When we get their satisfaction survey back, we learn that they felt the waiting room was too cold, or that we didn’t provide coffee. The automatic response may be to think…”really??”, but if the issue impacts the way our care is perceived, it means we have an issue we can improve. Here are some things that may help with the daily potential frustrations that impact the way we are perceived.
Be proactive in communicating delays. Being consistent is a key customer satisfaction point. Empower your check in person to communicate delays. Apologize to patients when delays happen. Make lobby announcements if it impacts everyone. Patients are likely to forgive delays if they know what to expect. If they are asking about why there is a delay, it is a missed opportunity.
If you don’t have one, invest in a blanket warmer. We can do a great job for our patients and families, but if they are cold, it is what they will remember. I have had awful experiences in restaurants when I’m too cold to enjoy my dinner. Patients and families will be focused on their discomfort despite great care. Encourage caregivers to dress warmly during the pre op call, and offer extra blankets to patients and families as needed. They will be warm and grateful, and it will impact the perception of their experience.
Provide access to drinks and snacks for family. We don’t want to tempt NPO patients in the waiting room, but families will want to have a resource to a cup of coffee or a quick snack, especially if the surgery is long. It may be directions to a coffee shop in walking distance, with permission to leave in exchange for a cell phone number and strict instructions on not leaving the area if that is your policy.
Empower your staff to take ownership of patient needs. if the patient needs information or a problem solved, even if it is not a surgery center issue, have your staff see it through. I recently helped a patient get a pre-op prescription problem solved, and he remembered me by name. I could have provided him a practice telephone number, but I knew that could result in the patient waiting several hours for resolution, and he was anxious. It was five minutes out of my day, but the patient got his problem solved and was very happy with the result.
Post-op calls are greatly appreciated. It only takes a couple of minutes, but the patients feel like we are truly concerned for their outcomes. I like to send a post card if the patient is not reached. Some facilities include a pre-printed “thank you” postcard with each patient’s medical record for all caregivers to sign. Once the surgery is complete, it is mailed to the patient. Either one, or both sends a powerful message showing you care.
Read your satisfaction surveys. Whether you use paper or software to query your patients, read them all, and share the good and bad. Celebrate the compliments and take action on the complaints.
As we know, a positive patient experience is our best advertisement, and a negative one will be shared, and perception is key.