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Providing Excellent Customer Service for Patients


By making a few, very low-cost changes in your practice, your level of customer service will rise quickly in the eyes of your patients.

There are several schools of thought about what defines good customer service. Some medical practices are so afraid of being taken advantage of, they tighten up financial policies too much. And other practices are forced to close their doors because they give everything away. There is a happy medium where you can offer great customer service to your patients without breaking the bank. Here are some suggestions:

1. Provide an online pay portal for patients to pay their bill.

I know this may seem trivial, but when was the last time you wrote a check? There have been so many stories in the news about mail being stolen and checks rewritten using the process of "check washing." An online pay portal gives patients the opportunity to pay their bills whenever they want; bypassing the mail or not having to wait for your practice to open up so they can drop off their check in person.

2. Call people back within a specific time frame.

Although this seems like common sense, you'd be surprised how many phone calls do not get returned. I would say if a call comes in before 2 p.m., it should be returned within the same day. Any calls that come in after 2 p.m. should be returned no later than 9 a.m. the next day. Even if you don't have the answer yet, calling the patient back and explaining that their question will take a bit more time to resolve lets them know they are important. Set a date and approximate time for the return call so the patient can plan his day accordingly.

3. Provide extended hours for people who work all day.

If you normally open your practice at 9 a.m., have a medical assistant and nurse practitioner start their day at 7 a.m. (leaving two hours earlier than the rest of the staff) so that patients will have an opportunity to be seen before heading into work.

4. Call patients back the next day after their appointment to check in on them.

This can be done by any administrative staff member, and if the patient still has a question, a message can be taken and a healthcare provider can return the call. I'm always a bit surprised when I get a call back from a doctor (even my vet after I've taken my dog in for a visit). It shows they care about me, and that means quite a bit in my book.

5. Keep your waiting room and bathrooms clean.

Again common sense rules here - get rid of those five-year-old magazines for goodness sake. It shows a lack of attention to detail. If your bathroom is dirty or there is no toilet paper or hand towels available, it implies that your staff is lackadaisical about cleanliness and customer service. If I walked into an unkempt bathroom, I would question the practice's overall policies and management.

All of these suggestions are very low cost, and can mean the world to your patients. It's worth it to just take a look around your facility and see what other little changes can be made that will make a big difference in delivering customer service to your patients.

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