With patient satisfaction either at an all time high or an all time low it seems, sometimes, that this thing referred to as “patient satisfaction” is often elusive and can sometimes feel as though it’s unattainable. That 1 bad review, that 1 negative experience can turn into a chain reaction that you never saw coming. Here we have compiled a list of the top 10 things you can do that are free ( or close to it) to instantly improve patient satisfaction. Part one of this 2 part post will discuss your front office and the staff that have the initial interactions with your patients. First impressions of both usually make a bigger impact that the interaction with the actual medical professional.
#1. Make your office environment inviting.
When your patients walk in are they walking in to a calming environment or is it chaotic with children misbehaving and parents not paying attention? Are your seating arrangements comfortable? Can patients and their belongings comfortably fit? Are your chairs or benches padded or are they hard wood or plastic, are they arranged for optimum use of space and functionality? All of these small things are what set the tone for the initial emotional response to your office environment. If you’re unsure of any of these answers, walk into your waiting room and test out the seating. Look around, is it clean, how does it smell, would you be comfortable sitting there for any amount of time? Think like the patient and center your office environment around those thoughts!
#2. Calm inviting colors and scents usher in calm inviting feelings.
Would you feel more comfortable in a warm room filled with rich color, nice plants, a soft scent, and comfortable ambiance or a room with white walls, the smell of sanitizer, no music, no plants, no pictures…. Basically your jail cell for the entire waiting room time? It’s proven that people subconsciously respond to certain stimuli such as colors and smell. If you have stark white walls, go to the local Lowe’s, pick out a really great warm color, purchase a few gallons of paint, and have a painting party. Do you feel that live plants would be too much to keep up with? Well, faux plants last forever and can look just as great! Febreze plug in oil air fresheners are about $6 for 30 days of fabulously great smelling office space. Seems worth it to us!
#3. Above and beyond front office staff members.
Whoever is manning your front desk is almost the most important person in the office. You need to make sure they’re on the top of their game daily. Smiling and saying good morning/ good afternoon instead of just “Hi”, or worse, nothing at all. Feeling welcomed is so important to patient satisfaction so it can’t be stressed enough. A welcoming front desk staff as well as a competent staff that are consistent each and every visit with each and every patient is necessary. Staff education is so important not only to the patients, but the staff as well. Time spent properly training every staff member has been proven to create a loyalty to the practice because they feel wanted and needed. This confidence will translate when they interact with your patients. http://jop.ascopubs.org/content/6/2/104.full
#4. Make sure the people that work for you want to work for you
http://www.businessweek.com/debateroom/archives/2012/02/employee_happiness_matters_more_than_you_think.html Make sure your staff are fulfilled. How do we do this? Take your employee temperature. See exactly what matters to your staff the most. Do they need raises, or is being given more responsibility and being able to train others something that will make them feel more valued? Staff retention is very valuable to the growth of your office and or practice.
#5. Manners! Do the people that work for you have manners, if so are they using them?
Being from the south, I understand how to say please, thank you, yes ma’am, yes sir etc.and how that can make a person feel respected. Unfortunately a lot of people do Not understand this concept. Having a polite staff is priceless. Making sure your staff know why it’s important to hold doors, acknowledge people when they are standing in front of them (even if they are on the phone). If the staff is polite and kind but make a mistake, it really lessens the blow to the patient. Rude staff and mistakes are a lethal combo. By being polite, kind, and engaging they are making your patients feel comfortable and safe. The patients know that their interests are being looked after and you’re really keeping them in mind as you continue to grow your practice. Each patient is a building block in the structure that will become a strong practice with good longevity, they need to be treated as such.