As healthcare providers in retail settings, we are often asked to improve patient satisfaction. What does that actually mean, though? Is it just about making sure our staff are polite and courteous, should we acquire a better selection of merchandise, or does our ambiance not fit the needs of our patients?
When looking at all the possibilities it may seem overwhelming, but getting started may be easier than you think. In this article, we’ll talk about some strategies for improving patient satisfaction in retail healthcare facilities, including clinics and pharmacies. We’ll cover everything from customer service training to customer communication preferences. By the end of this article, you’ll have a better idea of how to improve your own organization’s patient satisfaction metrics!
Identifying the gaps in the patient experience
Patient satisfaction is a vital component of the patient experience, and in fact, patients who are satisfied with their healthcare facility are more likely to recommend it to others and return for future care. That’s why it’s important to know what areas need improvement so you can focus on improving them.
Two main strategies will help identify gaps in patient experience:
- Conduct internal surveys and interviews with staff members who interact with patients (e.g., physicians, nurses, etc.)
- Review previous research studies about patient satisfaction in similar settings
Staffing is a major challenge for retail healthcare facilities, and the healthcare industry as a whole has long struggled in both finding qualified staff and retaining them.
The American College of Healthcare Executives’ annual survey of hospitals’ concerns identified workforce challenges as their number one concern for the second year in a row. Although shortages of registered nurses weren’t seen as the most pressing concern for over a decade and a half, they rocketed to the top nearly universally for healthcare organizations in the past two years. Most facilities, roughly 90%, ranked shortages of registered nurses as the most pressing within this category, followed by shortages of technicians (83%), and burnout among non-physician staff (80%).
Leading by example
Leadership is the key to success, and it’s especially important in a healthcare setting. If you want to improve patient satisfaction with their experiences at your healthcare facility, then you need to make sure that your employees are happy as well. One way to do this is by providing training opportunities and encouraging them to feel comfortable asking questions when they don’t understand something.
Setting an example by treating everyone around you – from other employees to entry-level janitorial and service staff – with respect and dignity at all times shows that you’re willing to lead by example. This means being willing not only to talk about improving patient satisfaction – but actually doing something about it yourself!
Creating an environment that promotes trust
Creating an environment that promotes trust can be a challenging task, but it’s not impossible. A key component to building trust is forming a culture where patients feel comfortable and safe from the moment they walk into your facility. To do this, you must first understand how to build trust with your patients – and then ensure that you’re meeting their needs at every touchpoint along the way.
Trust is a two-way street: patients need to know that you’ll take care of them and provide them with excellent care, and doctors need their patients’ trust so they can effectively share information about the best treatments or approaches during interactions like appointments, phone calls, and emails. There are many ways in which healthcare professionals can foster this type of relationship between themselves and their clients by communicating openly about everything from billing questions to treatment options.
Review your policies and procedures
If a patient has a complaint, it’s important to make sure that the staff member who was involved knows what happened and how to avoid repeating it. Policies and procedures should be reviewed regularly to ensure they are up-to-date and easy for staff members to follow. If you have written policies and procedures in place, make sure they are clear, concise, and consistent across your facility. You may also want to consider having them reviewed by an outside party (e.g., an attorney) for accuracy before distributing them. It’s important that everyone understands their roles and responsibilities when interacting with patients or visitors within your organization.
Be proactive about scheduling appointments
Schedule appointments early in the day, especially when your facility is at its busiest, as this will help you get patients in and out quickly. This can be especially important for retail healthcare facilities that are open late into the evening or on weekends, where patients may have trouble finding time during normal business hours.
Be proactive about scheduling reminders for upcoming appointments, too. Patients often forget about their appointments, and if they do remember, they might not think it’s worth going if they’ve had to wait for a very long time since their last visit! To help prevent this from happening, provide each patient with a reminder call about two days before their next visit so they won’t have any excuse not to show up at all!
Pay attention to customer feedback, both positive and negative
As a healthcare facility, you have the opportunity to be a massive part of your patient’s health journey. Because of this, it’s important to pay attention to their feedback and use it as an opportunity to grow and improve.
The key here is listening carefully. Patients may not always know how best to communicate their needs or frustrations with a service or product, especially in the heat of the moment. Patient satisfaction surveys can help you understand what they needed that wasn’t provided, and that allows you to improve your services in the future.
You should attempt to be open-minded about negative feedback because even if someone isn’t happy with something at first glance, that doesn’t mean they won’t be satisfied later. Focus on improving patient experiences as a whole, rather than focusing solely on making them happy right away. This will keep them coming back again and again.
Healthcare facilities have an important role to play in the lives of their patients. Patients need to feel cared for and safe when they visit these facilities, and that means having a positive experience. If you’re an employee, manager, or owner at a retail healthcare facility, it’s up to you and your team to make that happen by paying attention to, and reacting to, what patients have to say about their visits. Reviewing feedback from surveys, asking questions during check-ins, and making patients feel comfortable opening up about their experiences are all small things that add up to massive changes.
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