Developing and nurturing patient expectations requires a thorough understanding of the patients’ expectations and perceived value of their care during the healthcare customer service experience.
“Patients expect the staff to show they care about them during every interaction.”
Patients are developing their opinion from the moment they walk in the door. We want to ensure that we make that first impression a good one. Happy patients return – and refer others. Great customer service can help you create a loyal patient. A happy, satisfied patient is more likely to come back – and even refer people to our facility. If a patient gets a less than warm feeling, they are likely to search out the next option because they assume that’s a reflection of the care they will receive. However, if they encounter pleasant service, they will more likely return. The reputation that you develop will be vital in determining whether patients seek you out in the future.
The main services offered at MHC are CLICK HERE
Customer Service Standards
We will follow the below customer service standards:
We will be courteous, respectful and have empathy
- We will always make sure patients are treated with courtesy and respect.
- We will listen effectively to our patients requests and promptly take the necessary actions to assist them. We will keep our patients informed of unexpected delays in service.
- We will greet our customers in a courteous and professional manner.
- When patients enter our facility, we will greet them immediately with a pleasant smile
- We will make eye contact and acknowledge them immediately
- We will make our patients are our priority
- We will help our patients understand what’s going on and walk them through any procedures or medical terminology they may not understand. We won’t lose sight of what comes first: caring for people.
We will be professional and use appropriate language
- We will hold ourselves and each other accountable for addressing inappropriate comments and behaviour.
- We will use appropriate language and will be courteous even in difficult situations, not indifferent or combative.
- We will actively listen.
- We will be conscious of our communication style (i.e. audible voice, eye contact when speaking to someone, tone of voice) and always communicate in a professional manner without the use of slang
- We will be clear and concise in our communication without using jargon.
- We will make a conscious effort to compliment co-workers when their actions comply with these standards
We will meet timelines
- We will ensure that all of our interactions with patients are done so in a timely manner
- We will schedule appointments that minimise wait times
- We will ensure patients understand appointment timelines and provide updates in a timely manner should any unexpected delays arise.
- We will follow up and follow through. If we make a commitment to call a patient back, we will.
We will uphold privacy and confidentiality
- We will comply with relevant legislation and regulations in relation to privacy and confidentiality of our patients.
- We will ensure that patients details are not discussed where a breach of privacy and confidentiality may occur.
- We will undertake an identity check prior to releasing any information about patient’s private information.
We will be courageous in admitting our mistakes and find ways to do better
- We will follow up and follow through. We will seek feedback and address any diagnosed issues that may arise.
- We value poor feedback and use this as a tool to remedy problems that we didn’t know were there.
- We will use feedback as a tool to discover inefficiencies in our staff training and to refine our processes. Once identified, we will use this as an opportunity to provide adequate training for staff who may need it.
MAT Health Clinic (MHC) is accredited against standards set by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP). To view CLICK HERE
Accreditation is a process which acknowledges that our practice has met the set of industry standards. It shows that we are committed to safe, high quality health care. Accreditation is a voluntary process undertaken and is renewed every three years.
Accreditation Bodies are Australian General Practice Accreditation Limited (AGPAL) or Quality Practice Association (QPA)
Commence the MAT Health Clinic Customer Service Training by clicking on the button below
What do patients expect from healthcare customer service experiences?
Developing and nurturing patient expectations requires a thorough understanding of the patients’ expectations and perceived value of their care during the healthcare customer service experience.
Expectations can include:
- Quality medical care
- Comfortable and safe atmosphere
- Caring, empathetic, attentive and friendly staff
- Efficient and streamlined processes
- Accurate and complete information
- Professionalism and confidence
- Transparency on costs involved
Marketing, Promotion and Public Relations (PR)
Marketing refers to activities undertaken to promote the buying or selling of a product or service. Marketing includes advertising, selling, and delivering products to consumers or other business.
Promotion is all about creating a positive public awareness about our services and it involves strategies like advertisement and publicity.
Public Relations (PR) is intended to create and manage a favourable image of the clinic amongst the public. Social Media is used for this purpose. There are relevant industry rules and regulations around social media use in health, sites such as Facebook and Twitter are used for promoting awareness, encouraging patient engagement, and sharing accurate health messaging.
As a healthcare provider our advertising must give patients the ‘whole picture’. It must be factual, and the overall impression of our advertising must not be misleading. We must also be aware of laws about advertising therapeutic goods and Australian Consumer Law.
Ahpra guidelines for advertising a regulated health service CLICK HERE
Customer Service Roles and Responsibilities
- Greet visitors as soon as they enter, determine their needs and direct them to the relevant area of the practice
- Collect information from patients, including verifying the identity of patients and updating where necessary
- Answer the telephone and redirect calls to the appropriate staff member, and respond to voicemails in a timely manner
- Scheduling appointments and keep those appointments on time
- Communicate with patients and staff in a non-discriminatory, supportive, and inclusive manner.
- Clarify the core service values to be adopted by staff and communicate those values to staff
- Modelling those values to ensure staff will embrace those values
- Provide training and development programs and plans to enhance the service level and equip staff with tools and techniques for serving customers better
- Implement quality management strategies to review service quality
- Define the attitudes and behaviour expected of those dealing with patients
- Recognise and reward high levels of customer service achieved by individuals and teams
Dealing with common patient requests
For good quality care, all patients are required to make an appointment to see a Doctor for all results. To ensure strict patient confidentiality and compliance with the National Privacy Act is maintained, pathology and radiology results will not be given over the telephone by our reception and nursing staff.
Nursing assistance is available as coordinated by your doctor. There is a team of nurses who help provide health assessments, immunisations, wound care and
chronic disease management.
If you are on a prescribed medication, it is important that you are reviewed regularly, therefore an appointment will be necessary. Please ensure that an appointment is made with your regular doctor prior to your medication
If you have a vaccine with you, please hand it to reception staff on your arrival for refrigeration. Vaccines should be carried in a cold pack from the purchase point
and kept cool.
If, for any reason, you are dissatisfied with an aspect of the care you have received at this practice, we want to know about it. We take your concerns, suggestions and
complaints seriously. Please write or speak to the Practice Manager to discuss your concerns. Grievances will be dealt with promptly and if
you still feel unhappy with the resolution you may contact: Office of the Health Ombudsman
Finding out more about human rights
What are human rights?
Human rights recognise the inherent value of each person, regardless of background, where we live, what we look like, what we think or what we believe. View Fact Sheet here
Healthcare rights ensure all patients and carers in Australia receive safe, high-quality care in partnership with healthcare providers. This article explains your rights and what to do if you feel they have been denied.
Australians’ healthcare rights are set out in the Australian Charter of Healthcare Rights. These rights apply to any healthcare you receive, anywhere in Australia, including in public hospitals, private hospitals, general practice and in the community.
The 7 basic healthcare rights are listed below:
- Access: You have a right to healthcare services and treatment that meet your needs.
- Safety: You have a right to receive safe and high-quality healthcare that meets national standards, and to be cared for in an environment that is safe and makes you feel safe.
- Respect: You have a right to be treated as an individual, and with dignity and respect. Your culture, identity, beliefs and choices must be recognised and respected.
- Partnership: You have a right to ask questions and be involved in open and honest communication. You can make decisions with your healthcare provider, to the extent that you choose and are able to, and you may include the people that you want in planning and decision-making.
- Information: You have a right to receive clear information about your condition, as well as the possible benefits and risks of different tests and treatments, so you can give your informed consent. You can receive information about services, waiting times and costs, and be given assistance, when you need it, to help you understand and use that health information. You also have the right to access your health information. You must be told if something has gone wrong during your healthcare, including how it happened, how it may affect you and what is being done to make your care safe.
- Privacy: You have a right to have your personal privacy respected — information about you and your health must be kept secure and confidential.
- Give feedback: You have a right to provide feedback or make a complaint without it affecting the way that you are treated. Your concerns should be addressed in a transparent and timely way, and you have the right to share your experience and to participate in the improvement of the quality of care and health services.
Diversity & Inclusion
Good medical practice requires genuine efforts to understand the cultural needs and contexts of patients to obtain good health outcomes. Culturally safe and respectful practice includes:
- Understanding that clinicians own cultural beliefs influence interactions with patients and ensuring this does not negatively impact on clinical decision making
- Acknowledgement of social, economic, cultural, historic and behavioural factors influencing health at the individual, community and population levels
- Having knowledge of, respect for and sensitivity towards the cultural needs of the community being served and adapting practice to improve engagement with patients
- Adopting practices that respect diversity, avoid bias, discrimination and racism and challenge beliefs based on assumptions
- Supporting an inclusive environment for the safety and security of individuals and their families
- Creating a positive, culturally safe work environment through role modelling and supporting the rights and dignity of others.
Be Aware of Impact of Culture
For example, if someone avoids eye contact with you when speaking, perhaps that’s the impact of culture – not that they are rude, shy or uninterested. Acknowledge it, understand it, and ask about it. You will need to learn and adjust to each other to ensure communication is effective and appropriate.
You are communicating with individuals
Beware of assumptions. Culture gives useful clues but don’t assume all people from a certain cultural background share the same beliefs and ways of behaving. People are individuals and need to be treated as such. Start a conversation and find out what the person values and believes.
All cultures are equal
The culture you were raised in is probably the one you feel most comfortable with – you understand the ‘rules’. This does not mean it’s ‘the best’ or ‘the only’ way people should behave. A ‘different’ culture does not mean a ‘lesser’ one.
Speak clearly and concisely
Speaking clearly doesn’t mean speaking slowly (which can seem patronising). Use your natural pace but sound words out properly. Also, break down information into manageable chunks and, if required, use supplementary nonverbal information such as maps and drawings.
Check for understanding
If you’re having difficulty understanding a message, ask the person to repeat or clarify it. Similarly, if you don’t think your message has been understood, check for understanding.
Be aware of non-verbal communication
Up to two-thirds of the meaning of a message can come from non-verbal communication such as facial expressions, gestures, posture, tone of voice, etc. Always be sensitive to non-verbal communication and how it’s interpreted by other cultures.
Customer Service for People with Disabilities
Patients with disabilities are simply: patients. They may have different ways of communicating with you or performing tasks, various tools to assist them, and certain adjustments or accommodations to help them do things with greater ease. You may also do things a little bit differently when interacting with patients with disabilities. But the heart of the interaction is unchanged: patients come to you for services, and your job is to help them.
There are some etiquette principles and language guidelines for providing customer service for people with disabilities, how to have a successful first interaction with patients, as well as identify some strategies for providing equal access and ensuring effective communication. The aim is to ensure the customer service team is prepared to offer effective support for our patients with disabilities.
Etiquette Principles and Language Guidelines for People With Disabilities
Etiquette relies on common sense and general principles that you would apply when interacting with all customers. Here are five principles that should set the stage for your interactions:
- Displaying a welcoming attitude
- A desire to help
Let’s say that you have a customer who is deaf walk into your practice and they have a sign-language interpreter with them. Now, often people will speak directly to the interpreter while ignoring the deaf person because it might seem intuitive to them. Meaning that they might think, “well, why would I direct my words to the deaf person directly if they can’t hear me? Doesn’t it make more sense to speak to the interpreter?” The answer is no.
Even though a deaf person can’t hear what you’re saying, they may have lip-reading ability, and you also communicate volumes with your body language. In this case, the respectful thing to do is to speak directly to them. If you speak to the interpreter and ignore the deaf person, it’s quite disrespectful. Imagine what it would feel like if someone was talking about you as if you weren’t even there.
Another common mistake is to automatically start speaking very slowly and loudly to all people with disabilities as if talking to a child. This might be a bit subtle, or it might be very pronounced, but this is considered quite rude, and unfortunately, it’s something that people with disabilities encounter often. The respectful thing to do is to talk to adults like adults. The one exception to this case is when someone asks you to speak up or speak more slowly, then, of course, it’s appropriate to do so.
Displaying a Welcoming Attitude
One of the essential components of good customer service is making people feel welcome. For example, let’s say that you encounter a person who is in a wheelchair. Oftentimes, people will not even make eye contact with a person using a wheelchair because they think, “well, is it rude? Is this considered staring? Maybe I better just look away.” Now, this is definitely much more likely to happen outside of a customer service relationship, such as on the street. However, this interaction can happen in medical practice as well, and in this situation, the right thing to do is to make eye contact, smile, and just greet the person as you would any patient.
Let’s say you have a patient who isn’t moving away from the counter fast enough. You notice they are using a mobility device and is having a hard time moving at pace. you’re a museum guide and you are giving a tour. You notice that a customer using a mobility device is having a hard time keeping up with the pace. The right thing to do is to slow the pace down. Again, you’ll notice that this is really just about being observant and considerate of other people. The situation happens to be about serving customers with disabilities, but the general principles about how to treat people well are really the same.
When you’re providing customer service to people with disabilities, the interactions can sometimes take more time, and that’s okay. For example, you might have someone who has a speech disability or a traumatic head injury, and it might take them longer to finish sentences.
Sometimes, there may be an impulse to finish a person’s sentence for them. It’s hard to watch someone struggle to find the words when we can just quickly help them out, but it’s actually not the right thing to do in this context. Just give people enough time to communicate, and make them feel worthy of your time by being patient.
A Desire to Help
A strong desire to help is at the heart of all customer service interactions and particularly in healthcare. Here’s a key thing to keep in mind: not all patients with disabilities will need or want help. For example, you might notice that someone who is using a mobility device is taking longer to open a door. Now, many of us would immediately jump and open the door.
This isn’t a bad thing, necessarily, but in this case, the appropriate thing to do is to ask. You can just smile and say, “Hey, can I get the door for you?” The reason for that is that many people with disabilities prefer to do things independently, even if it takes them longer. We must be aware of that and respect people’s choices. This is just a good example of the value of not making assumptions.
Complaints and Triage
Well-managed complaints can benefit our clinic. We see complaints as an opportunity to build strong, lasting relationships with patients and improve our customer service. Customer complaints give us valuable information about how we need to improve.
- It resolves issues raised by a dissatisfied patient in a timely and cost-effective way.
- It provides information which can lead to improvements in service delivery.
- Where complaints are handled properly, a good system can improve the reputation of the clinic and strengthen patient confidence in our administrative processes.
We value feedback both positive and negative and use this as a tool to improve our service.
You will find the MAT Health Clinic Complaints Policy here
You will find the MAT Health Clinic Complaints Triage Instructions here
You will find information on keeping Medical Records here
- The Therapeutic Goods Administration looks at prescription medicines, vaccines, sunscreens, vitamins and minerals, medical devices, blood and blood products.
- The Private Health Insurance Ombudsman protects the interests of private health insurance consumers.
- Safe Work Australia (SWA) is an Australian government statutory body, they work in partnership with governments, employers and employees—to drive national policy development on WHS and workers’ compensation matters.
- The purpose of the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare is to contribute to better health outcomes and experiences for all patients and consumers, and improved value and sustainability in the health system by leading and coordinating national improvements in the safety and quality of health care.
- The Office of the Australian Information Commission (OAIC) are the independent national regulator for privacy and freedom of information. They promote and uphold your rights to access government-held information and have your personal information protected.
- Information about anti-discrimination and equal opportunity measures can be obtained by contacting the Australian Humans Rights Commission
- The Australian Charter of Healthcare Rights describes what consumers, or someone they care for, can expect when receiving health care.
- The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) is the national organisation responsible for implementing the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (the National Scheme) across Australia.
- The Office of the Health Ombudsman exists to protect the health and safety of the people of Queensland. In Queensland, the OHO and Ahpra work together to oversee and regulate registered health practitioners in relation to matters concerning their health, conduct and performance.
Codes of Practice and Standards
Codes of practice provide information on a specific issue and help us achieve legal standards. The Medical Board of Australia has developed codes and guidelines to guide the profession. These also help to clarify the Board’s expectations on a range of issues. View Here
The National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards provide a nationally consistent statement of the level of care consumers can expect from health service organisations.
The RACGP’s mission is to improve the health and wellbeing of all people in Australia by supporting GPs, general practice registrars and medical students through its principal activities of education, training and research
Examples of how you stay within the law
- Check on any legal obligation or restrictions that apply to your patient interactions
- Obtain the necessary permission or clearance for an action
- Obtain all necessary licenses and qualifications for the job
- Keep the business premises and equipment in good repair, clean and in a safe condition
- Use warning notices wherever appropriate
- Explain all procedures, actions and possible side effects of using products and services to patients
- Ensure that patients fully understand the implications to any matter to which they give their written consent
- Dispose of waste (especially biological wastes) in accordance with public health and environmental regulations
- Store and use all dangerous substances as directed by the manufacturer’s label or legal requirements
- Behave in an ethical and professional manner at all times
- Respect privacy and Freedom of Information legislation when handing on information to a third party
Health Customer Services legislation
MAT HC Communication Policy View here
MAT HC Inclusive Language Guide View here
MAT HC Workplace Discrimination Policy View here
MAT HC Inclusive Communication Guide View here
MAT HC Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) View here
MAT HC Behaviours of concern Policy View here
MAT HC Complaints Policy here
MAT HC Code of Conduct View here
Mandatory Reporting and Statutory Notifications
When an organisation or agency the Privacy Act 1988 covers has reasonable grounds to believe an eligible data breach has occurred, they must promptly notify any individual at risk of serious harm. They must also notify the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.
Health Practitioners Mandatory Notifications
The Ahpra guidelines Click Here have been developed to provide direction to registered health practitioners, employers of practitioners and education providers about the requirements for mandatory notifications under the National Law.
All Australian states and territories have legislation that requires medical practitioners to report cases of child abuse to the appropriate child protection service. In some cases, workers and professionals are also required to report instances of exposure to sexual, domestic and family violence, in recognition of the seriousness of this type of harm to the developing child.
There is a mandatory legal requirement that health professionals report certain medical events, conditions and diseases. The Queensland health website provides a list of conditions which must be reported to your local health unit View the list here