Physicians are often concerned with their practice volume. There is the worry that when visit volume is down that they’ve got to fire up their marketing; create billboards, support more local initiatives and get their name out more. Some suggest the economy is poor, therefore their referrals are down. Others look at the amount of deductible and co-pay portion patients are now required to pay – and yes those factors all have the potential to impact volume. However, I have found it is often lack of identifying how to grow strategically, and identifying the gaps that are resulting in growth, yet still providing high quality service that provide the greatest return on investment (ROI) for practices. Growing a practice take a lot of work, it’s not just about the physician, the physicians’ quality or the facility. It is critical that each department in the organization needs to understand the importance of high quality customer service. As a consulting firm we are often engaged to help identify growth opportunities, develop strategies and to ensure sustainability. However, if services are not provided in a manner that embraces your patients with high quality customer service it might be time to rethink your processes.
How does your practice measure up when it comes to customer service? Are you willing to think beyond patient satisfaction scores? Is it okay to have 95% of your patients satisfied – what if 5% are dissatisfied, and that 5% tell their friends about how they don’t like your practice? It’s critical today to inspect all aspects of the practice to identify what makes the practice successful, but to think beyond and identify what barriers we have created for our patients.
Here are 3 things that we have found work to improve customer service in your medical practice:
1) DO IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME Consider evaluating the work flow by department. As medical practices grow over time, they have added procedures and policies to ensure that their department is compliant with the “issue of the day / month /quarter.” Think about it, if we ask patients on the phone for their insurance information before their visit, verify their eligibility electronically before their visit and ask them for a copy of their insurance card at each visit ….. you start to see the redundancy. With the complexity of medical practices today, it is likely that there are other redundancies between departments in your practice as well. Consider flow charting the procedures, ensure that you are capturing the information you need to do your job, but not duplicative. Not only does duplication reduce patient satisfaction, but it costs the practice money.
2) FOCUS GROUPS Identify patients that would be willing to provide you feedback. Through a random selection process identify 6 to 8 patients that would be willing to participate in a focus group. Have the meeting facilitated by an objective person such as the office manager or the administrator. If you provide lunch and a gift certificate to Macy’s for $25.00, you might be surprised what kind of feedback they can provide to you. Make sure that you share the results of your focus group with your physicians. The results of the focus group might be surprising - comments may be very negative about the physicians, the front desk, or management. It is important that you report the results honestly, celebrate the positives and embrace the challenge of the negative. Often there are simple changes you can make to remedy the problem areas.
3) OUTSIDE EXPERTS Consider engaging an outside expert to help you understand the dynamics of the practice. Physicians often believe that consultants are helpful in a crisis, but having an outside facilitator help you review your workflow can be highly valuable. At Systems Consulting our team can accurately assess what is working well in your practice and what needs to be improved. We are also skilled in facilitating physician retreats to help educate the practice on what needs to be changed to provide high quality services. Typically we provide a one to two day on site visit with a ½ day retreat to help you get the organization in the growth mode. To learn more, visit our page -Medical Practice Consulting Our team works nationally, to get you started, we offer a free 30 minute telephone conversation – call us today at 1-866-222-4488 to learn how our team can help you.