Shivhon Adkins, MPA, Founder Medical Receptionist Network, Practice Manager Advocare Newborn Network
Focusing on the overall patient experience is the responsibility of everyone in the office or organization who have direct contact with your patient population. However, it is
management’s responsibility to understand, document, measure and report on how your front desk and clinical staff are performing in this area. Often, we rely on electronic surveys that can be sent via email and you generally expect to have low participation. In my experience less than 30% participation was the average and that left a huge amount of information unknown. The best thing about electronic submissions is that the information does not have to be reentered into another system and is easily accessible for future review and comparison. The patients have time to share any concerns anonymously if preferred. The downside is they may complete it days after they were in the office, which can lead to less detailed information or more time to think about something that went wrong or time to forget something that went great.
How Can You Help?
Have you ever heard that it takes 21 days to create a habit? Well, it may take more than 21 days but that sure is a good start. Let’s look at some ways to obtain more accurate information after a patient visit. I find that having an opportunity to speak with a patient directly after the visit is a great time to obtain information about the process from the patient’s perspective. Perhaps you can choose several patients a week for 3 weeks that you meet with post appointment. It would be great to speak to everyone, but we must consider time constraints, other responsibilities, and how many patients would be willing to participate. You can have a set of questions prepared, beginning with the appointment scheduling call, to the check in process and actual visit. Many patients will remember the details at this point, and you are able to obtain great feedback in a face to face setting. Your face to face interactions with patients should not only be when there is a complaint or billing issue. I believe that clients will be glad that someone is invested and making sure the patient experience is meeting and exceeding expectations. You can set up blocks of time to complete this, and even let your staff know what you are doing. Incorporating a new process to monitor patient satisfaction.S peaking to several patients a week will allow you to provide a weekly wrap up to your staff and providers, highlighting what they have done well and where improvement is needed. Having the ability to tailor this type of follow up according to your schedule is helpful, you can also do it for a short period of time, review the results and do it again weeks later. You are providing valuable research for your practice and for yourself. Lastly, you are increasing your visibility to your patient and client population and building trust. Perhaps they will come to you directly in the event of any future concerns and not an online review site. We hope to see positive feedback increase for your healthcare organization
I included inquiring about the phone communication during your in-office patient followups. Phone communication is known to be an area where miscommunication, hastiness, misinformation, and even lengthy hold times occur between your patients and staff. If you do not have a system to monitor calls and refer to past calls when a patient or employee provides a complaint, you must be very informed on how the calls in your practice are being managed by your staff and how patients are responding to your staff. Employees need to be protected from verbal abuse as well. Focusing on volume, length of the calls, staff knowledge to respond to requests, as well as what most incoming call request are for. If you have a busier practice you may be able to incorporate solutions to reduce the amount of calls or have them prioritized more efficiently to reduce the stress on your employees, reduce hold times for patients, and improve the interaction with patients who are in the office.
Patient concerns and expectations change just as practice operations may changeover time. As leaders, you want to be sure that you are aware of how your office is being impacted. What you respond to and resolve daily has to do with many moving parts. Having first hand knowledge and feedback from those most affected, patients and staff, allows for you and other members of the management team to prepare and update company wide policies, procedures, and workflows towards improvement. There are times when one incident is so impactful that changes are made without considering all of the factors. The more of an understanding you have of what is common in your office, the more you will be able to make informed decisions when something of this nature occurs. Implement the best patient satisfaction and follow up procedures that will garner the most benefit for your practice.
Shivhon Adkins is the Founder of Medical Receptionist Network, an organization which provides tools and training resources for Medical Receptionists. Shivhon is the Practice Manager of Advocare Newborn Network and has over 16 years of experience in healthcare and private practice. Shivhon has improved daily processes within the office setting by creating and enforcing policies and procedures while overseeing a multi-office practice.
Shivhon has been a member of PAHCOM since November 2015. This article previously appeared inPAHCOM Spring issue.