We asked MGMA members on the MGMA Member Community to send us their best medical practice customer service/interaction tips. Many medical practice administrators and marketing directors responded with innovative and personal touches that can make your practice stand out from the rest. Whether you implement one or several, you can't go wrong with these ideas to boost patient satisfaction.
- Continue to take customers until closing time, treating the last customer of the day with respect and courtesy, even if he or she arrive as the doors are being locked, suggests Kathy Winn, director of marketing, Primary Health Medical Group, Meridian, Idaho.
- Talk positively about coworkers and the practice to give customers the confidence that they will be appropriately cared for in any of your locations and by any of your staff. Both of these ideas, sent in by Winn, resulted from a large customer service initiative that the healthcare organization kicked off in 2008. "We take customer service very seriously," she says.
- Print personal business cards for each clinical employee, such as nurses. After rooming a patient, have the nurse exchange the card and encourage the patient to call and ask for him or her if there are any questions or concerns after the visit.
"Some patients comment on what a personal touch they feel we have added to our practices," says Diane Zientek, manager, Morris (Ill.) Hospital, noting that the idea arose after a patient-perception survey found low satisfaction with nurses' "courtesy and caring."
- Make follow-up calls after a procedure is done in the office or if a well-child visit involved multiple immunizations. "By taking this proactive approach, we think we've eliminated some of the patient calls that might have come in," Zientek says.
- Buy a box of pens with your practice's logo and phone number on them and leave them near the sign-in sheet for your patients' convenience. "If a patient accidentally walks out with your pen... you have given your patient a thank you gift," says Colleen Mathias, CPC, CMPE, practice administrator, Ob-Gyn Associates of Hampton (Va.), A Division of Mid-Atlantic Womens Care.
- Print your practice's logo, phone number and address on hand sanitizers and refrigerator magnets. Use them for patient giveaways and to hand out at community health fairs. Patients are more satisfied when they have an easy time finding information about your practice. Plus, "they're relatively inexpensive and are useful items that keep our name in front of [patients]," says Fred Rost, director of marketing, Maryland Primary Care Physicians, Millersville.
- Always be transparent with patients. If their doctor has an emergency, have the receptionist tell the waiting patient that he or she has an emergency and will be with them as soon as possible. "Saying nothing leaves the patient thinking they are forgotten or don't matter," says Marti Robles, practice administrator, Arroyo Medical Group Inc., Pismo Beach, Calif. "If patients understand what's going on, they are more likely to be satisfied."
- Encourage visual acknowledgement as soon as a patient walks in the door. Have front desk employees act as patients waiting to check in, and simulate ignoring them for 15 seconds. "Staff[members] don't realize how long 15 seconds is to a patient," says Gar Reed, clinical services director, Watson Clinic, Lakeland, Fla. Then, train them on making eye contact, smiling and using the phrases, "Excuse me, I'll be with you ina minute," or "I'm sorry I was busy. Can I help you?"
Have your own fabulous customer service ideas to share? Add to the comments.