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BLOG: Customer Service and the Care Continuum

02/26/2019

LifeCare Health Partners

Customer Service and the Care Continuum

LifeCare Health Partners and its family of hospitals nationwide appreciates every patient that comes to us for their extended care needs. The success stories that come from patients that have made significant recovery make us happy and validate what we do and why we do it. Making customer service a key factor in the care continuum is a vital element in the experience of patients and visitors to your hospital.

We receive reviews on various platforms from patients who are thankful for our services and getting them back on a healthier path of recovery. We also receive reviews that may point out areas that we can improve upon. We appreciate all reviews and take them to heart to continue to provide exceptional care and service to our patients and their families, and we also strive to improve in every facet of our care to make sure we are serving our patients in the best way possible.

The current customer-oriented world has changed the way many people respond to goods and services now. With the rise of the Internet and social media, today’s customers are more savvy with all of their choices and purchases, resulting in higher expectations. Healthcare is no different, and if patients aren’t happy with the level of customer service they receive from a hospital and its staff, they will speak up about it.

In an article from Forbes Magazine, customer service consultant Micah Solomon draws parallels between patient experiences as consumers in other industries, as compared to healthcare.

Here are a few points suggested to enhance the customer service that your hospital provides:

The best impression possible

Just like most customer-service situations, the first impression a patient gets of your hospital makes a big difference. The old saying is “You don’t get a second chance at a first impression,” and that remains true in the hospital world as well. The last interaction is significant also. Both create what Solomon called a “snapshot” of the hospital experience for the patient. So give them the picture perfect experience.

Attention must be given to the details that shape a patient’s impressions, from reminding front-desk staff to be cheery and polite at all times to making sure patients can easily navigate the hospital.

And follow-up phone calls to check on a patient’s continued recovery can make their last impression of your hospital a good one, while decreasing their chances of experiencing complications that may cause readmission – a win-win for both sides. Not to mention, it gives them a great reason to recommend your services.

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United in purpose

The most important aspect of creating a healthcare team that’s customer-service focused is to differentiate between an employee’s “purpose” and the person’s “function,” according to Solomon.

Each member of the staff has tasks and duties specific to their individual position, but that purpose is deeper than that, and it ties into the hospital’s whole overarching goal to achieve the best outcomes for patients by treating them as well as possible. The entire staff should strive to be on their “A” Game while performing their duties, but also to be on the same page with the hospital’s mission to provide the best possible care for each patient and their families. That is where customer service shines through. That level of personal interaction and attention to detail will make the complete hospital experience as pleasant as possible for everyone who visits, patient or guest.

Integrity in all phases of care

Standing behind your mission and delivering exceptional care and service is so important, including when a complaint may arise. Address them with transparency and compassion. Healthcare personnel sometimes become defensive when errors are pointed out to them, Solomon stated. Even if it’s something seemingly minor, like a patient not being greeted politely at check-in, staff should always take responsibility and offer an apology for the issue, or assist in finding a solution. Have empathy for the patient’s position, and train all hospital staff to respond to these situations with courtesy and grace.

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Perspectives like these can go a long way in improving your patient’s customer service experience and creating a positive and lasting impression of your hospital. A patient knows that you have gone to great lengths to make their stay as comfortable and successful throughout their continuum of care. LifeCare Health Partners endeavors to provide quality care and customer service to enhance our mission to Accelerate Healing, Restore Health and Improve Life.

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