Defining a Patient-Focused Organization

As a physician who owns a medical practice you are basically operating a business, which of course, has customers (patients) — people who come to your establishment to purchase goods or services. Good customer service ensures that patients will return to your practice for ongoing medical care, and also recommend it to others. With the increased emphasis on patient satisfaction and quality of care it is helpful to ask yourself if your practice is a patient-focused organization. Or conversely, is your organization one that is physician-focused? There is a difference.

My question is not meant to be critical, but rather to challenge you to think about what your practice does operationally. (For instance, is your schedule designed to meet the needs of the patient or the physician?)

To find out the answer to my question, ask yourself these five things:

1. What is the patient is looking for?

To discover what the patient is looking for requires measurement through surveys, focus groups, and the like. It may seem obvious that patients are looking for good care, but not always, since they also may want respect, fairness, adequate communication, and short wait times.

  • Do you have a mechanism to measure what is desired?
  • If so, do you act on it in some fashion that shows that you care about the feedback and seek to improve your overall operation?
  • Do you check the internet for any feedback that is in the social media sphere? And respond by fixing things and not reacting defensively or posting comments?

2. What is the patient's relationship with the physician?

  • Do patients feel like a number, rushed through the care process and not able to ask and receive answers to their questions?
  • How effective and complete is physician-staff-patient communication?
  • Is there empathy shown to the patient?
  • Is patient care appropriate, and is time spent explaining why patient-requested treatments and/or new medications may not be the best solution?
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