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Providing Cutting Edge Customer Service in Surgical Practices

In and out of the operating room, the process of surgery should be as painless for patients as possible.

Cutting the stress out of going under the knife can make a world of difference for patients.

Preparing for elective surgery is a very involved process, from dealing with insurance to getting ready to heal, which can mean speaking with a case worker and getting support from family and close ones. There’s a lot of communication with several parties going on for each patient. That’s why providing premier customer service can make the process feel infinitely less stressful.

And because the most a surgeon will see of their patient is while they’re under, even more of the responsibility of creating an excellent environment falls on the support team.

I went through two surgeries last year at two different hospitals, and the experiences were polar opposites of each other.

For my first surgery, the patient coordinator rescheduled my surgery multiple times due to her own scheduling mistakes, put me down for the wrong surgery, and spoke down to me for going to other staff for help. When she once again booked me for an appointment at a time when the surgeon was unavailable, I did not follow up and have not been contacted since.

My more recent surgery was entirely stress-free. The nurse and the social worker assigned to me walked me through every step and let nothing slip through the cracks. I was able to feel confident that I was being taken care of.

The differences between these two hospitals go deep. There’s a lot to learn there on how to make sure things go right and why that’s critical for your patient.

Why it’s important

Trust between the patient and provider is undeniably vital in healthcare. Providing good customer service is how to start cultivating that trust.

A patient who is more comfortable with their care team will also be more cooperative. That can mean following instructions, making and showing up to appointments on time, and paying in a timely manner.

Forming that bond with patients is also key to retention. An unhappy patient can mean lost business.

I gave up on making appointments with a hospital that kept rescheduling me. Avoid pushing your patient away from the practice.

What patients look for

Communication happens in two directions. Patients want their healthcare team to listen to them with an open mind and speak to them with empathy and professionalism.

Part of expressing empathy is accepting your own mistakes. When something goes wrong, take ownership of it and correct it as quickly as possible. Showing an ability to repair mistakes is just as impressive to patients as getting it right the first time.

Efficiency is also a key trait that patients are looking for. This can look like answering the phone promptly, more appointment slots, and less time spent in the waiting room.

Digitization has led to a big effort in increasing efficiency in healthcare in recent years. The popularization of platforms like MyChart make connecting with providers even easier, and patients expect a faster response.

According to hiver, 70% of patients want to be able to connect with their healthcare provider instantly, either over email or phone.

As a patient, I will continue going to my primary care team because of their display of empathy and drive to help me as quickly as possible.

Putting it into practice

Customer service falls on the shoulders of employees. That means good staffing is paramount.

Hire staff that will put patients first. Applicants with previous healthcare experience and customer service experience should be put ahead.

Good training is also essential to having a good staff. Even after introductory training, work alongside your employees so that you can provide additional pointers and ensure that they’re understanding the hospital’s goals.

Listen to patients, too. Complaints can be an opportunity to do right by the patient and build loyalty.

Do your best to cover all of your bases. Being over-prepared will feel better for everyone involved. Patients will feel more secure and confident in choosing you as a provider.

In my experience, healthcare works best when everyone is working together towards the common goal of providing the best possible care for the patient.

Many dread having to see a doctor, but that reputation can be broken down. True hospitality will set a hospital apart.