A Guide to Patient Care

Patient care is vital for your Practice. You are wasting your time getting the system right if you blow it at the last-minute by rude staff, keeping someone waiting on the phone or not responding to something that has been promised.

Your Practice will be judges in the first 30 seconds of contact with the first person the patient sees. This may not be a highly paid or “senior” member of staff – but of course they ARE important because of this.

The essence of Patient Care is making every patient feel important. Do not prejudge your patients by appearance.

The first part of Patient Care is getting the basics right. These are the expected things – getting their name right, appointments being on time, giving them the service that they expect, having clean and tidy premises, smart and friendly staff etc.

If you get these right and the patient will not even notice, but if you get them wrong and they will. You will need systems and procedures for these, so they never fail.

The second part of Patient Care is the “delight”. You need to think creatively about what you can do to “delight” your patients. These are the things they do not expect. These are the things that they will tell their friends about – for example:

  1. My Surgery has A Carers Register
  2. My Surgery has a Prescription Collection System
  3. My Surgery has a Nurse Triage
  4. My Surgery will fit me in if it is an emergency
  5. I can telephone and speak the triage nurse
  6. My Surgery has a Smoke Stop Group
  7. My Surgery has a Weight Management Clinic
  8. My Surgery has a Health Visitors Clinics
  9. My Surgery has a Practice Newsletter
  10. My Surgery has a good informative noticeboard

After a while the “delights” may become expected. You will have to keep thinking of new “delights” for your patients. Discuss new “delights” at your next team meetings.

Sometimes it is a Delight to bend the rules for a patient. This needs careful management, but is unavoidable. No one likes a “Jobsworth”. Always check with your Surgery Supervisor/Manager before “bending the rules”.

Different patients want to be treated in different ways. For some it is about being dealt with quickly, others it is attention to detail, and for others it is about good friendly staff. Staff need to be trained to recognise these types of variation and adapt as necessary.

Patient Care is not just about new patients – it needs to be ongoing for existing patients too. The biggest cause of lost customers is “Perceived Indifference”. Replacing a lost patient, ie getting a new one, causes more work, ie new patient medical, registrations, sorting of notes, tagging etc. Staff need to be “warm and friendly” types rather than “cold and uncaring”.

Patient care is vital. It is important that management recruit the right people. Staff need to be friendly, and this means setting up a system to make sure that your Practice procedures are followed. Lead by example and to get moral to a level where cheerful staff are motivated to care about the patients.

Only 4% of unhappy patients complain. But the damage is done when they then tell other people negative things about the Practice. So every complaint must be taken seriously and dealt with immediately.

Complaints can be turned into a net gain if they are handled well. If a complaint is handled well share it at your next receptionist / Management meeting – talk it through with others – learn from every complaint.

Read previous blog on: Dealing with a Complaint. http://wp.me/p1zPRQ-6g

Patients need to be surveyed in order to find out what they think of your Practice. This means existing patients, and if possible non-patients (visitors to the surgery – as they too are customers). You need to know what they think is important and how you are at the important things.

Be your own mystery shopper occasionally. Try phoning in to your organisation. What are the first impressions like? Try sitting in our own reception area with some “work” and take notes on:

  1. How quickly the phones are answered?
  2. How professional / Helpful the receptionist is on the phone
  3. How does the receptionist deal with people at the front desk?
  4. Can you hear any confidential information being given out by the receptionist?
  5. How do you think the patient was treated?
  6. How good do you think “your surgery” is at Customer Care?

Read previous blog on: The Other Side of the Desk http://t.co/ZrJSw0pr

Attitude is a little thing that makes a BIG difference.

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