2018 Trend: For Happy Patients, Start with Happy Employees

2018 Trend: For Happy Patients, Start with Happy Employees

There is always talk about patient satisfaction in medical practices, but you may be surprised to learn one of the main drivers of patient satisfaction: your employees.

According to PwC Health Research Institute, “73% of provider executives say balancing patient satisfaction and employee job satisfaction is a barrier to efforts to improve the patient experience. But the two have the potential to go hand in hand.”

Think about your own experiences at retail stores, restaurants, service organizations, etc. The employees set the tone for how the customer/business interaction will go. You may witness store clerks engaged with their cell phones…inattentive or rude hostesses…or ill-tempered employees that do not listen to your concerns. Obviously, these types of scenarios don’t bode well for the business: they can immediately cause a wall to go up between the customer and the business.

News flash: they don’t bode well for medical offices, either. When employees of any business do not feel a true connection – a sense of ownership – in the company, they will not be compelled to put forth their best efforts toward the customer (or patient) experience. As a result, you may end up with some staff that place more attention on texting or gossiping at your front desk…snapping at patients after a challenging day…or rushing patients through their appointments. They don’t have to be outright rude to convey a negative attitude, thereby causing your patients to feel disconnected and dissatisfied.

Your employees spend a large portion of their days in your office. Their work environment should be a pleasant, enjoyable and professionally satisfying place to come to every day. Placing emphasis on this goal will most certainly result in patient satisfaction. Happy staff = happy patients.

Tips to Create Happy Employees

Focus on strengths, not weaknesses. Most people know where they fall short in the workplace. Rather than continually pointing out the flaws, by taking a strengths-based approach to management, the employee can get positive reinforcement. Building on the strengths that do exist will help that employee feel more motivated to reach their full potential.

Exceed staff expectations. Working day-in and day-out can be draining in any job. Management can mix things up by surprising staff with special treats…organizing after-hours outings…sending thank you notes…anything that is out of the ordinary.

Give staff the power. You probably have some very smart, very compassionate people on your staff. Encourage them to research training courses to improve their skills. Allow them to handle patient issues that may arise. Make it known that you want your staff to feel comfortable sharing all of their abilities and growing professionally.

Bring training in-house. Carving out time to travel to training courses outside the office can be difficult – and costly. There are many types of training that can be done right in your office or via phone calls that focus on sales skills, interpersonal interactions, phone skills, consultation flow, service offerings and more. The more training your staff has, the better they will be able to perform their jobs.

Recognize big and small achievements. Earning a new certification is something that is celebration-worthy at a medical practice. But you can also celebrate smaller staff accomplishments such as learning a new skill or going back to school. Taking time to know what your staff is doing in their personal lives will show them that you care.

Anticipate their aspirations. Working for a doctor may be a bit intimidating for some people. If you have staff that seems a bit shy, but you can sense that they would excel in a different role in your practice, help them realize their talents by giving them the push they need. Anticipate the aspirations they may not even know they have and offer them the tools and opportunities to get to the next level.

Break the office mold. Make your office a place your employees want to come to every day. By investing just a little extra money to create a spa-like environment for patients and employees, you will once again be showing your staff that you care with the added bonus that the patients will feel relaxed and calm.

Communicate. Communication is key to any relationship – including your business relationships. Hold weekly or monthly staff meetings to discuss important events happening at your office…new technologies you are implementing (or researching)…employee concerns…staff changes…accomplishments…anything that is important to your office.

Set goals and reward those goals. Your practice goals and employee goals should match up. If your goal is to increase surgery conversions, give employees specific goals to strive for so they can feel like part of your success. Then you can determine what types of rewards will drive those goals: gift cards, salary bonuses, annual parties, etc.

Clean house, if necessary. Unfortunately, there are certain people that can simply bring down the entire office. If you have tried multiple approaches to work through personality issues or work ethic inconsistencies, there may come a time when you need to legally sever ties with employees that are not able to function in an acceptable manner.

The Filter Down Effect on Patients

It’s difficult to be unhappy when there is a person smiling right at you.

It’s difficult to be upset when people are working hard to right a wrong on your behalf.

The main goal of any successful medical practice is patient satisfaction. Happy employees emit positive vibes that can create a domino effect on patients. Once you have established a caring environment from the inside-out, your patients will sense this the minute they enter your office – or even when they call.

Help is Available

It isn’t always easy for practices to realize where they may be falling short in employee satisfaction. There are external companies that can come into your practice to analyze your entire organizational structure, flow and environment to identify inconsistencies and gaps. With this knowledge, you can start implementing changes to improve everything about your practice.

Advantage Healthcare Consulting, a division of Advantage Administration, is a Management Services Organization (MSO) that offers large-group pricing on services to help improve your practice. To learn more about companies that provide organizational support and analysis for medical practices, contact Advantage Healthcare Consulting today.