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Staff Training Lesson: Don't Let Efficiency Erode Patient Experience

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

stethoscope in the shape of a heart against white backgroundHere’s a brief but important staff training lesson: Don’t let office efficiency overpower patient experience. Without considerable care, the negative consequences can have an enduring—and unwanted—downside.

We encounter this often as we work with doctor’s offices around the country. On the surface the office appears to be well managed and highly efficient. The office manager and staff demonstrate the precision and coordination of a military drill team.

Operationally, the parade of patients is processed through—from reception to “goodbye desk”—with a smooth workaday routine. Interactions are pleasant but generally unremarkable. The bean counters are proud.

Superficially, this seems like an appealing picture. But at your next staff-training day, consider that there’s a missing ingredient. Nearly every case is routine from the point of view of the staff. Their professional training and experience applies as usual…the same as yesterday…and the same as dozens of times in the past.

The trouble is, the patient sees things from a totally different perspective and mindset. For them—a person, not a case—their health problem is not routine or ordinary. From their point of view, medical issues are serious…perhaps even devastating, like cancer.

Office operating efficiency is a worthwhile objective. But when efficiency overwhelms a positive experience, the feeling that’s communicated to the patient—directly or implied—is that the system and the office routine is more important than the care they’re seeking.

Patients are not concerned about the business of the office. For that matter, they’re not concerned about other patients. To them, their medical concern is paramount. Patients may hang on every word in a conversation, and because of the emotion involved, they can recall bad experiences for the rest of their lives.

The training lesson is that efficiency cannot be achieved at the expense of empathy and concern for the individual’s medical care. It is relatively easy to achieve a smooth office routine, and we're all in favor of good business. But it is far more important, and more challenging, for that efficiency to be invisible to the patient, and that caring for their health issue--routine or otherwise in our eyes--be the primary concern of the staff.

Consider how staff training can incorporate “patient first” concepts which work hand-in-hand with efficiency. After all, “the patient is not an outsider to our business…they are our business.” If you would like more information about this or related training issues, please connect with us today.

And for related reading, see: Relationships: Success Formula for Marketing to Patients and Patient Experience: The Forgotten “P” in Your Medical Marketing Plan.

Lori Waltz, Client Performance Specialist 

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