Put your urology practice's patient service to the test

May 1, 2011

Taking a brief patient service quiz can help you determine what you're doing right and what areas could use improvement.

Ensuring that patients feel positive about their experiences with your practice is more important than ever. Today's information tools give patients significant influence on their health care providers' reputations and businesses.

Even as recently as a decade ago, patients had much less influence. Word-of-mouth was still just that: verbal information sharing. An unhappy patient might share his experience with friends he saw soon after his visit. Or, if really motivated, he might contact a few friends to complain. If the friends happened to need the same sort of care, they would likely think twice about coming to you.

Today, though, word-of-mouth is more typically delivered by Internet-based tools that allow unhappy patients to communicate much more broadly. Consider the power of social media: The average Facebook user has more than 130 friends. An unhappy patient with a smartphone could post a message to all of them via Facebook before he's even left your building! Updates sent out via Twitter can travel even further and faster. What's more, introverted or privacy-minded patients have many options for quietly posting negative reviews on Vitals ( http://www.vitals.com/), HealthGrades ( http://www.healthgrades.com/), Avvo ( http://www.avvo.com/), Yelp ( http://www.yelp.com/), and other Web sites.

Does your practice "always" or "usually" meet most of the standards listed in the quiz? If so, odds are good your patients feel good about their experience with your urology practice. If not, it's time to implement policies to address problems with punctuality, privacy, availability, and courtesy that can undermine your practice and send a message of disrespect to your patients. While there are, inevitably, some situations where influencing patient satisfaction is difficult (ie, difficult diagnoses), the good news is that most of the things that lead to poor ratings and patient grumbling are fully under your practice's control.

Judy Capko is a health care consultant and the author of Take Back Time- Bringing Time Management to Medicine . She can be reached at 805-499-9203 or judy@capko.com
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