While there are many things that patients can do to minimize their wait time at the office, doctors and staff can also do their part to improve patient satisfaction. Here are 6 ways doctors and clinic staff can help.
As providers and staff, we have many restrictions placed upon us that create this cycle of lateness and hurry. You can read about all of these in the episode Why Is My Doctor Always Late?
However, that does not mean that we can't improve our customer service skills and do our part to streamline the process for our patients. Here are 6 ways doctors and clinic staff can help:
Tip #1: Keep the Chit Chat to a Minimum
Don't get me wrong, small talk is a crucial part of the doctor-patient process. It establishes a rapport and makes discussing potentially embarrassing or worrisome medical issues easier.
However, I have seen front desk staff and doctors spend tons of valuable time chatting with patients while other patients sit in the waiting room watching the clock tick. It's a fine line between cordial small talk that lessens the intimidation of a doctor's visit and excessive chatter that further delays the schedule. It's a doctor's responsibility to know the difference.
Tip #2: Ask Each Patient for a Thorough List of Concerns
Once the patient arrives, it’s vital to obtain and confirm a thorough list of reason(s) for the visit. This process involves the front desk staff and the medical assistant.
Tip #3: Apologize
Common courtesy goes a long way. I find that most patients are forgiving for my tardiness, especially when I make it a priority to apologize and make it clear that I value their valuable time.
Tip #4: Check in on Waiting Patients
If the doctor is running late, the medical assistant or another staff member should provide ongoing feedback to the patients waiting. Attempt to give them some estimate of the schedule as it stands and how many other patients are before them. That way, they don’t feel as though they are “forgotten” and understand that we value their time.
Tip #5: Offer a Beverage or Snack
Offering a beverage, snack, or water while patients wait can also help ease the anxiety and build good will.
Tip #6: Provide Entertainment
This is especially vital for the children in the waiting areas. Running late for adult patients is one thing, but for those who have to bring kids to the doctor’s office or for pediatric patients themselves, a TV running a cartoon DVD can be a lifesaver. It may not hurt to include a separate TV geared towards the parents and other adults, as well.
Do you have other suggestions for doctors or patients? Be sure to post them in Comments below or on the House Call Doctor's Facebook and Twitter pages! You can even find me on Pinterest! If you have any future topic suggestions, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a healthy week!