Patient Relationship Management (PRM)

Good service every time- how?

  1. Systems
    Systems can ensure good service every time. Being nice to people is just 20% of providing good customer service. All the courtesy and smiles in the world aren 't going to help us if our service is not what the customer wants or expects OR what we have promised. The important part is designing systems that allow us to do the job right the first time. Smallest part of our service should be thought about and a system devised for the same. What can go wrong? That 's the Q to ask while designing our systems. Examine every step we take in delivering our service, and see where there are possibilities for error. Then figure out ways to eliminate them.
  2. Automation
    By incorporating computers wherever possible, we not only increase the speed of each transaction, we also decrease the chance for human error. What 's more we increase our efficiency and shorten the turnaround time between patients. If your patient records are maintained on your computer you immediately know the past history of the patient and you do not need to ask the same questions over and over again. Also the patient gets impressed by your knowledge of their case. This helps in building relationships and patient retention.
  3. Manners
    Manners really are important. Courtesy - is NOT taught; it is inculcated. If we want our employees to be polite to our customers, we have to be polite to our employees. A friendly greeting from the staff when the patient walks in goes a long way to make them feel at home. Research has indicated that people who felt welcome were less cranky about having to wait to see the Doctor. We all know that there are times when the best planning and scheduling goes awry but a few words and a smile from your staff can make a big difference to the emotional balance of the patient when you finally see them. The politeness & courtesy of your staff will first and foremost help you do a better job under easier circumstances.
  4. Improving communication
    ALL individuals within the establishment, including us, must improve the communication and interpersonal skills. Most problems arise from poor communication, resulting in mistakes caused by instructions not being given or understood properly and frustration caused by the inability to influence staff or management effectively
  5. Active listening
    Listening to every word spoken rather than getting the gist of it and forming an impression. Improve staff 's perceptiveness through teaching them good observation and correct interpretation of body language.
  6. Communication boosters
    1. Knowledge - knowing your subject well & speaking from a position of real knowledge versus assumed knowledge!
    2. Empathy - Being sensitive to the patient 's concerns. We may have come across similar conditions a thousand times but that particular patient has not. For him it is a huge worry and he needs to know that you are "listening & empathizing " with his concerns.
    3. Feedback - Encourage patients to give you feedback. You may or may not use the feedback. In some cases it may be irrelevant. However, the fact that you have asked for feedback makes it very important to the patient. Use basic human psychology to guide your interactions with your patients. They want to know that you are interested in what they think & feel.
  7. Communication barriers
    1. Language - not fluent in patient's language. Make the effort to understand what they are trying to tell you. Use gestures and your hands and face to communicate with the patient. Maybe they have a relative who is able to speak on their behalf? Sign language always works. What 's more it makes the patient secure in the knowledge that the Doctor is making an effort.. One of our Advisor's found that he was getting a whole lot of patients who spoke only Bhojpuri! He was surprised and could not understand why he had become the favourite of Bhojpuri speaking patients who would travel long distances to see him despite the fact that he could not speak any Bhojpuri! It was only later he discovered that one patient's good experience with his ability to use sign language had become an endorsement for the entire community.
    2. Physical - eg. feeling of disgust at a foul smelling ulcer. It is but human to feel revulsion but as Doctors we have to learn to mask our true feelings. Imagine if one of our loved ones or close friends were in that situation. Would we be callous? Probably not. As a Doctor you have to learn to control your emotions and reactions.
    3. Social - patronizing for high social status will definitely lead to ignoring a lower social economic status one. One interesting but lesser known fact is that the lower classes actually need far more medical intervention that the upper classes do. Their living conditions and lack of hygiene very often cause health related issues. They are actually the bread and butter of any family health practice. They are also very big believers in word of mouth. One bad experience and you can easily find that a large chunk of your practice has moved away. Treat all your patients with the same amount of respect.
    4. Lack of feedback - if we don't know what they want or expect, we can not deliver

Total patient satisfaction
If, we have to sincerely achieve total patient/customer satisfaction,

  • We have to start by respecting other people's time and manage our time effectively.
    • Our personal sense of time should include an awareness of the importance of other people's time, just like our own.
    • It is almost criminal to make others wait unnecessarily.
    • Appointments are for keeping and not breaking.
    • We have to decide, what we want patients/customer's time or patient's / customer's money? We can't have both.
  • Our establishment should have a dress code for staff. Preferably uniforms / aprons. If not uniforms, then at least establish a code
    • Sober clothing
    • Sober accessories
    • Nothing flashy & revealing
  • Patient feedback / suggestions:
    Do you ask for patient feedback? Do you ask for suggestions? How to know what patient wants? Don't guess about what they want. They're more than willing to tell you. Give them a chance and listen to them.
    • Your patient will tell you how to provide good service; ask them what they want, but ask politely and don't force them to answer.
    • Present surveys in such a way that they can ignore them if they don't want to participate. Understand that they are NOT in pink of health and may not feel upto answering any questions.
    • If you don't want to get into surveys, just keep a SUGGESTIONS book in the waiting room. Make it easy for them to tell you.