Tips for Improving Patient Satisfaction in an Urgent Care
Urgent care centers and walk-in clinics have been spreading like wildfire across the US, as patients seek quick efficient care at a lower cost. Today, there are approximately 9300 walk-in urgent care centers in the United States, and there is no sign of slowing down with nearly 300 new clinics opening every year. Now that retailers such as CVS and Walmart have also entered the market, there seems to be no shortage of options available for patients.
With so many choices available, now more than ever is customer service and patient satisfaction essential to success. By putting some simple strategies into place, an urgent care or walk-in clinic can improve patient satisfaction and boost patient perception. There are many different ideas on how to improve the patient experience, below are just a few simple suggestions:
1) Smile: It may seem obvious, but a happy and efficient staff can significantly improve patient satisfaction. A simple smile and personal greeting can go a long way with patients. Front desk staff is the first and last impression of your office, so it is wise to invest in happy people.
2) Sit: Research indicates that sitting rather than standing to discuss a patient’s history, makes the patient perceive the provider has spent significantly more time.
3) Listen and make eye contact: Active listening is an important part of effective interaction and a skill that tells patients you are interested in what they are saying. Although, the provider may be listening there are certain techniques that can signal they are actively engaged such as: not appearing to be rushed, eye contact, posture that is open and inviting, using gestures, asking relevant questions, and repeating part or all of what the patient says. While multi-tasking is often necessary, it is critical to maintain good eye contact so that the patient knows you are listening.
4) Apologize: If the wait is long, a simple, heartfelt apology can go a long way with a frustrated patient. If medical staff cannot seem to find the lab results or they have misplaced paperwork, an apology is necessary. While this seems obvious, it is surprising how many facilities fail to recognize the patient’s time is important too.
5) Explain: Explain to the patient what is going to happen next. A simple explanation usually won’t require a significant amount of time, but it can make a patient feel much more comfortable knowing what to expect.
All of these best practices are simple ways to improve customer service and patient satisfaction. Though they may seem very basic, many clinics are not utilizing the most fundamental interpersonal skills in their daily interactions with patients. By making these actions a standard of care in your clinic, your patients will have an overall better experience.