I’ve never enjoyed talking on the phone or texting except for its ease of communication. But it leaves much to be desired, including relating to the other person on the line and conveying sentiment. Nevertheless, my virtual Primary Care practice requires me to deliver excellent telemedicine customer service.
Bending Over Backwards for Patients
I don’t want or expect my physicians to bend over backward for me. That would burn them out, and it makes me feel uncomfortable. But I want them to be proactive and attentive.
I’m not a physician who will go above and beyond, but I want to deliver on what I’ve promised my patients. For this reason, it’s helpful to occasionally review my metrics for offering excellent customer service to my patients.
Respectful & Compassionate
Patients often feel vulnerable when they are seeking medical care. It is important to be respectful of their feelings and to show compassion for their situation.
One way to show respect is to avoid belittling someone’s feelings or experiences. It’s also important to demonstrate compassion by showing understanding and empathy.
Take the time to listen to your patient’s concerns and to understand their needs. Good open-ended questions are the key, and asking for more information before offering your input goes a long way.
This shows that you care about them and take their concerns seriously. They likely have rehearsed what they will say 20x in their head and once they are on the stand they’ll forget a lot of what they meant to ask and share with you.
Clear & Concise
Explain things in a way that your patients can understand. Avoid using medical jargon that they may not be familiar with.
For some, it’s helpful to understand the importance of apoB vs. non-HDL cholesterol. For others, they want to be clearly told that their risk of a heart attack is too high, and that they concisely need a medication to help lower that risk.
A positive patient experience is a scene you have to paint through the entire conversation. And finally at the end you can put the finishing touches on the masterpiece.
Get back to your patients’ questions and concerns in a timely manner. This shows that you are taking them seriously and that you are committed to providing them with the best possible care.
Even if I have to say, “I didn’t forget about your other question, but we need to come back to that. Remind me, okay?”
Don’t wait for your patients to come to you with problems. Be proactive in identifying and addressing potential problems.
This is undoubtedly one of my weaknesses, which is why I am implementing a quarterly check-in and risk assessment.
An excellent patient experience in a telemedicine visit is bracketed by what you said on the call and how you left the call. During the call, it’s important to advocate for the patient when they can’t.
Be the opposite of a large medical group doctor – be willing to work with your patients’ schedules and needs. This shows that you are accommodating and committed to providing them with the best possible care.
What sets a private practice apart is the personalized care which requires flexibility and accommodation, all while setting firm boundaries to avoid confusion.
Dress appropriately and maintain a professional demeanor at all times. This shows that you are taking your job seriously and that you are committed to providing your patients with the best possible care.
A good sense of humor is always welcome as long as both you and the patient feel comfortable, and it paves the path to a positive patient experience.
A positive attitude can go a long way in creating an excellent patient experience. Smile, be friendly, and make your patients feel welcome.
Many mornings, I wake up on the wrong side of the bed with tons of critical thoughts about myself and others. But when I’m about to start a patient conversation, I am aware of this negative attitude and try to put myself in my patient’s shoes.
A positive attitude clearly indicates that your intention is to offer excellent patient care. Even if there is a miscommunication, it’s easy to recover from it.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself playing the role of the patient or doctor to see how you could offer excellent telemedicine customer service.
If I had this problem as my patient and was about to visit a doctor whom I didn’t fully trust, what would I want that doctor to say to make me feel safe and trusted?
If I was so overwhelmed with my condition that I couldn’t think of a single positive thing and I was visiting with my doctor virtually, how would I want them to handle me?
If I was in a shitty mood as a patient because I was overwhelmed and if I was a little snappy, what reaction from my doctor would I appreciate?
If I could go to any doctor in the world because I had all the money and time in the world, why would I choose this doctor (you)?
If I was asked about my doctor by a friend, what would I say about them? What positives and what negatives?
What single thing could you ask your patient today that would make them feel your compassion and feel heard?