Every industry faces the challenge of providing exceptional customer service. This is especially challenging in healthcare. In every business, the customer comes first, but in healthcare, it must be balanced with what we know is best for the patient, with the acknowledgement the patient is not necessarily wanting to be the “customer.” 

In a recent Becker’s article, VP of Ambulatory Surgery at Novant Health, Carole Guinane’s book, “Improving Quality in Outpatient Services” (CRC Press, 2011) is discussed. The article provide 10 tips from the book for creating an outpatient environment that results in great customer service. 

The first is keeping wait times to a minimum. Wait times are the greatest hurdle for positive patient experiences in an outpatient clinic. In an ideal world, a patient would wait less than 10 minutes to see the provider. The key is managing the patient’s expectations. Updating the patient on the current wait time by the receptionist or through a Visit Monitor revealing current wait times, ultimately results in improved patient satisfaction. When the patient is aware of the expected wait time, it therefore improves the overall experience of their visit. 

Another tip is to make a good first impression. Friendly, informative staff at reception will add to the positive customer experience. Just as we see in the hospitality industry, welcoming the customer creates a welcoming atmosphere. Think about how you are greeted in a 5-star hotel lobby. Many times you are greeted by name, with beverages, or food, and you are escorted to the receptionist where check in is done in a timely manner. 

Other helpful points are made in the article that are crucial to producing a positive customer environment. These principles have to be practiced and believed in throughout the clinic in order to be successful. 


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