Running a healthcare service can be very rewarding, but at other times it can be very stressful. Complaints are generally one of the worst elements of running a healthcare service – they can take up valuable time, and if not properly handled can lead to bad reviews and lawsuits.
Whether you run a dental surgery or a chiropractor practice, there are likely to be certain complaints that you will deal with more frequently than others. Here are some of those common complaints (as well as advice on how to deal with them and how to prevent them).
Inability to get an appointment
If you have a small team of staff members, there may only be so many appointment slots that you can offer to customers per day. This can quickly lead to a build-up of complaints as you end up having to prioritise the needs of certain patients.
Let each patient know that you are busy and try to find solutions in order to slot in more emergency appointments such as offering phone calls to assess patients who cannot get an appointment and then deciding whether to prioritise their needs that day. Make sure that if a patient cannot get an appointment that day, they are able to get an appointment the next day – or recommend them to another clinic.
Long waiting times
There are many cases where patients can end up being made to wait long periods, which can lead to complaints. This could include not being able to schedule a procedure for weeks, or forcing patients to wait for twenty minutes or more on the phone.
Waiting times are sometimes unavoidable, but can be reduced by taking advantage of cancellations or by setting up appointment booking apps/websites that help to reduce phone queues.
Neglect by staff members
If patients feel that they are not getting all the care they deserve, they may accuse you of neglect. This is a common complaint in the senior care industry, where tasks like turning patients over and cleaning them needs to be done regularly and properly.
Cases of neglect can arise for many reasons, but are often a result of poor training or poor patient management. Failure to keep on top of supplies like dry wipes can also lead to neglect. It is important that profusely apologise when receiving these complaints and that you work with patients to get to the bottom of the cause.
Nobody wants to deal with moody or impersonal staff. This is particularly important in the healthcare sector where a friendly attitude can be important for building trust and encouraging cooperation.
No matter how busy you are, try to be empathetic with every patient. Small talk and a sense of humour can go a long way in making patients feel more at ease. Dealing with patients does require patience – if you have trouble controlling your anger or anxiety, this could be something to get support for.
If patients are overcharged for treatments, this can also lead to complaints. Such complaints are usually easy to rectify, but are still important to avoid.
Before billing patients you should always double check what you have billed for. Itemised billing can make it easier to keep track of every individual cost. It is important that all costs are quoted to patients in advance so that patients are receiving surprise fees.