Defining Moments in the Patient Experience

A few weeks ago we sent a mystery shopper in to an urgent care for services. Their experience demonstrated the importance of ownership in the patient experience. The woman at the reception desk didn’t look up or greet the patient. After a few minutes the patient asked if the woman at the desk could assist her. The woman looked up and said, “I don’t work in urgent care,” and went back to her computer screen.

The mystery shopper documented that the encounter was both confusing and irritating. She had clearly entered the door labelled Urgent Care. She had approached the only receptionist in sight. Shouldn’t she expect that anyone positioned at the reception desk should be able to assist her?

Fortunately, after another two minutes, a different woman came around to the desk from a back area. This smiling woman greeted the patient with a warm welcome, apologized for the wait and asked how she could assist. The patient was escorted back to the triage area within minutes.

Key Issues

There are a few key issues in this example, the first being that of ownership. Does each and every associate within your organization know the importance of taking ownership on behalf of the organization? The first woman in this story may as well have told the patient, “It’s not my job.” Or “You’re not my patient.” Even though she didn’t say these actual words, she left the patient feeling unwelcomed, confused and wondering if she was in the right place. Many patients would have left and gone on to a competitor.

Unfortunately, this was the patient’s first impression. The patient’s second encounter was more positive, but the damage was already done.

When you set forth standards in your organization, are you following up to validate that the standards are being upheld consistently? Take time to validate regularly. What you don’t know CAN and does hurt you.

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