Patient complaints indicate a disconnect between what patients expected and what your staff delivered. Sometimes that disconnect is caused by a patient’s unreasonable expectations, and sometimes by something your staff did wrong.
Use this four-step process to respond to patient complaints:
1. Listen: Let the patient air it without interruption – be it 60 seconds or five minutes. As long as the patient isn’t abusive or disturbing other patients, this is all a patient wants: to voice his or her concerns and have it heard by you or your staff. There’s something therapeutic in being heard – or maybe it’s only the beginning of what the patient wants.
2. Apologize: Chances are, you won’t get through a confrontation with a patient without delivering a sincere apology. Again, this can be hard to handle when you know you or your staff have done nothing wrong, but the patient just won’t listen. Make sure the apology is sincere, not just a halfhearted attempt at saying sorry.
3. Resolve: Saying sorry isn’t enough for many patients, and that’s understandable. If the patient has had an upsetting experience, he or she may not be interested in lip service. They want to see their concerns heard and resolved. If it’s a mistake by one of your staff members, let the patient know you’ll speak with the employee, and take appropriate action.
4. Follow up with the patient: Following up with the upset patients is as important as resolving the situation. Whatever you promise a patient, make sure it happens as soon as possible. Many patients will do their own follow-up, and if they notice that the problem they experienced is still not sorted, you could be in store for more than a bad review or complaint. Many medical practice owners offer discounts or free consultations to make up for a bad experience. Still, you need to understand that no act of contrition will solve a problem for long. A visible change to your medical practice is a better way to apologize than anything else.
Curious to know the secret to handling patient complaints? Click here.