In the words of Bill Gates “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” This holds true in medicine as much as it does for Microsoft. How management and staff handle the complaints of your patients speaks volumes for your practice.
It is easy to get caught up in the responsibilities of your job and forget there are many moving pieces that allow a clinic to run smoothly. Each job is as important as the others. Unlike the technician that does the work up or the front desk staff who checks insurances, your patient will experience each component every visit. From calling to schedule the appointment, checking-in, possibly having to speak to a biller or triage, being worked-up, and finally to seeing the doctor, the patient gets a bird’s eye view of how the clinic functions as a whole. For that reason complaints should be taken seriously.
As a technician the role of the front desk staff can seem distance and possibly unimportant to the work-up. But, as we all know, without insurances being checked, appointments being scheduled and verified there would be no patients to work-up. A clinic is more than just a patient seeing a doctor, it’s 100 moving pieces coming together to provide comprehensive patient care. To instill this in your staff consider having a technician shadow a front desk staff member for a few hours and then vice versa. Have a biller shadow a technician and encourage meaningful conversation. In this way each employee gets a comprehensive view of what takes to make a clinic operate and they may rethink how “easy” the other staff member has it. Understanding what contributes to each patient’s total experience will factor into creating the well oiled machine you envision your practice to be.
Ensure that patients are able to communicate their experience with management. This can be done over the phone with a documented phone call or surveys that are offered in the waiting area for patients to fill out. With social media what it is today, remind patients to leave a review on your pages. During staff meetings read the comments and allow feedback from staff on how to improve the patient experience. A patient’s complaint or praise should never be dismissed, it is an invaluable learning tool.