Service Development Manager
In an ever-changing environment, patient satisfaction is one of the most important ingredients in helping to create appropriate patient pathways in line with the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF).
Patients of today are not only interested in the direct clinical care they are being offered but all the additional elements of service that they receive – from the initial engagement and interaction, to detailed advise and after-care. It’s about demonstrating empathy and consistently delivering a world-class experience that puts the patient first and at the heart of everything you do.
All of us have had fantastic experiences which we have shared with friends and families, but success is all about how we translate these experiences and the key messages into our day-to-day operations through engaging with and training our teams to deliver these fundamentals.
The basic principles of providing an excellent patient experience within the practice environment are not dissimilar to how other industries ensure their own good customer service. Patients will expect certain levels of customer service in all other areas of their daily lives; therefore there is no reason to assume that the expectations of their care within the practice environment are unlikely to be very different.
Consistent service delivery is the difference between patients having an average experience and a good or great experience. Investing time in developing a “Patient Experience Toolbox” will help to inform, up-skill and refresh “Think Customer” behaviours among practice teams, no matter where they are located along the patient journey.
One of the key principles of good service delivery is all about listening to patients. The GP Patient Survey provides firsthand feedback enabling the practice to review, change and tailor services to what the patient wants.
The Toolbox can be split into three modules:
- Welcoming and engaging customers.
- Creating lasting impressions.
- Putting things right.
The third module is the next step as teams can be provided with the skills to actively engage and seek feedback from patients with specific techniques on how to deal and manage any issues that may have arisen there and then.
As well as helping to improve the patient experience, a training programme also provides an opportunity for training and developing the practice team. Particularly within the healthcare sector, time, money and resource is spent on training clinical teams, but this training engages with all employees and enable practice managers to support them by giving them the tools to deliver their everyday roles as well as giving them pride and job satisfaction, which can lead to a reduction in staff turnover, recruitment and training costs.
Top tips for implementing a patient satisfaction programme:
- 1. Listen to your customers through feedback forums, surveys and day-to-day engagement.
- 2. Develop training materials that are fun and interactive, which allows the audience to participate and create the solutions.
- 3. Roll out through a series of “Train the Trainer” sessions, which allow practices to nominate more than one trainer so they can support each other in the roll-out and delivery of the sessions. This also ensures that momentum is maintained as more than one trainer provides flexibility in scheduling.
- 4. The Toolbox should include communications, ie, newsletters, training invitations etc, which can be cascaded to ensure that the message is consistent and doesn’t become diluted.
- 5. Ensure that the training is adaptable and flexible so key components of the training can be used in staff forums, departmental meetings etc, to reinforce feedback and key messages which may present themselves.
- 6. Monitor the impact of the training through patient satisfaction surveys to ensure consistent delivery as well as reviewing the success of the principles and end product.
- 7. Develop a reward and recognition scheme to highlight key performers who have gone the “extra mile” or delivered exceptional service (success stories).
Institute of Customer Service (Internet homepage)
BMI Healthcare is the largest independent provider of acute private healthcare in the UK, having over 70 hospitals and healthcare facilities nationwide. With 99% of its patients surveyed rating their care as good or excellent,* it is committed to providing a consistent, high-quality service to local communities.
Its medical and surgical facilities, supported by state-of-the-art equipment and high-calibre nursing and support staff, attracts over 7,000 consultants from a wide range of specialties, undertaking a range of procedures from routine investigations to the most complex, high-acuity cases such as obesity, cardiac and neurosurgery.
* Source: Patient satisfaction survey carried out by Howard Warwick & Associates (Jan 2009 – Dec 2009).