Health & Fitness

Health facilities must use patients’ feedback for better service delivery

A new patients’ lounge at the Machakos Level 5 Hospital. Quick and easy avenues for patients' feedback helps medics to know and address their complaints. PHOTO | FILE
A new patients’ lounge at the Machakos Level 5 Hospital. Quick and easy avenues for patients' feedback helps medics to know and address their complaints. PHOTO | FILE  

For three years we ran a clinic with my colleagues. Like most startups, we gave all our passion to the clients and tried to make the clinic visits by our patients as best as possible and also as our selling point. With time, as the practice grew, we had to sometimes leave hired staff to man the facility.

As a startup founder when you employ people, the customer interaction and experience tends to shift. For you the business is all about passion and this easily oozes in your work.

Unless the employees also believe in this creed, it tends to be a routine day at the workplace and the customer experience deteriorates. For this reason a customer care protocol must be put in place to remind employees.

I now realise that one missing aspect in our clinic is that we did not create avenues for the clients to give feedback easily, otherwise we could have noted some of their complaints earlier.

This oversight is not just in my clinic, I am sure countless other doctor’s clinics have no easy avenue to have patients air their views.

One reason could be that perhaps as doctors we have not become used to the idea that the clinic is a business and patients are our clients.

While shopping for health insurance for my parents recently, I visited five different insurance companies looking for information.

Of these, only one seemed to have a clearly defined customer care protocol. Every sales agent and enquiry desk had a customer feedback survey form. The customer was also reminded to fill it out before leaving the counter.

The questions ranged from the usual experience during the visit, the staff, the premises, the firm’s products as well as other topics—brief but concise to cover important points.

A day later I was impressed when I got a text message from the customer department thanking me for visiting their firm and enquiring whether I got what I wanted: That is effective follow-up.

These two aspects also highlight what a truly focused customer care approach can do to a business. As the market environment becomes more competitive due to more players, the sales team’s work is made easier by such approaches.

In my insurance example for instance, it is perhaps not by coincidence that the firm also happens to be the market leader. A good customer care team is part of their strategy to stay top.

What this experience showed me is that as a business focused on succeeding, any opportunity a client gets to interact with you acts as a sales or conversion point.

Secondly, while we have had traditional feedback forms for customer surveys, new technologies means such approaches may not be utilised easily. As a doctor ask yourself how many notes you got in your suggestion box and whether you need other approaches to get client feedback.

The waiting areas and receptions full of angry patients without an easy avenue to air their views on your services are the reasons patients are taking to social media to air their grievances. The repercussions to a health facility of such sentiment are obvious for the business: they may get distorted.

Quick and easy avenues for customers to give feedback allows us to know and address such complaint easily and quickly thus preventing escalation of problems.

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