I don’t understand why doctors have special parking spaces near the front door, while their barely ambulatory patients have to park in the back 40.
My investment company is a service business. As such, we are constantly trying to improve our customer service. We return calls promptly. We put customer concerns at the top of our “to do” lists. We use every form of communication to let our customers know we are taking care of them. We understand our jobs depend on the satisfaction of our customers.
Health care is a service business, but they are just now getting the message that customers matter. Going forward, reimbursements from the federal government will be linked to satisfaction surveys. Every staff member making contact with patients is being retrained to focus on service. One hospital had to teach its physicians to stop interrupting patients. One had to teach them to sit down and speak on eye level with bedridden patients. Floor nurses are being given cell phones to stay in contact with patients. Patients are receiving follow up phone calls. ESPN is being added to the channel line-up.
But that’s what business does. We listen to our customers, always striving to improve their experience. As an investment advisor, I must produce good returns for my clients. If I produce good returns but never call them, ignore their requests for help or just forget my manners when speaking to them, I lose that business.
Somewhere along the way, we forgot that health care is a business. As patients, we started treating doctors as God and found ourselves grateful for ANY attention we received in health care institutions. And health care professionals forgot that their jobs depend on us, not the other way around.
Now I know there are many good health care providers out there, so hold the e-mails, but when you have to teach doctors how to listen and not interrupt, something is wrong. Clinics and hospitals are being forced to take another look at how they deliver service. Their reimbursements are being squeezed, so they need to learn to manage their practices, with the patient in mind.
So move those reserved parking spaces to the back of the lot. Schedule appointments so that patients don’t spend the entire day reading your old magazines. And get better magazines! How about wi-fi in the waiting room? Send me a text if you have to reschedule. What about a decent blanket while I’m in the hospital? And why can’t I call my doctor by his first name?
Health care is a business. It’s time they started acting like it.
>> Nancy Lottridge Anderson, Ph.D., CFA, is president of New Perspectives Inc. in Ridgeland — (601) 991-3158. She is also an assistant professor of finance at Mississippi College. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org, and her website is www.newper.com.