Managing Problem Patients
Every practice has them. Folks who are having a bad day. Others who seem unpleasant or dissatisfied by nature. Then there are those few who are downright disrespectful.
Part of the problem is that some of these folks may blame the situation on you…and grumpy people talk. According to GrooveHQ, unhappy customers tell 16 friends about a bad experience, even if it’s their fault.
How do you manage these malcontents, especially when they’re bringing their bad attitude into your location? That’s exactly what we asked two of Shamir’s Peer-to-Peer Champions. Laura Miller, O.D., is owner of Northwest Hills Eye Care in Austin, Texas, and Lisa Frye is director of optical at InVision Ophthalmology in Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Tip: Using patient surveys and feedback will help measure performance and identify any additional needs. In response, create protocols and appropriate responses.
Hurt Begets Hurt
Dr. Miller says she’s always taught her staff that “hurt people hurt people.” It’s important for them to understand that patients who are “frustrated and angry may not be irritated specifically with us, but with something else going on in their life. Sometimes they will just take it out on us.”
Her advice to staff? “We want to be that good ear to listen to their complaint and then ask them how we can help the situation. Then we try our best to empathize, remain calm, and take care of them the best we can.”
The ECP’s Role
Eyecare professionals, says Frye, “should try to offer empathy in order to understand and reach a satisfactory resolution. We should not take it personally or assume a defensive position. The difficulty could result from a legitimate complaint or be due to external circumstances that have nothing to do with us.”
To prepare staff for dealing with potential problems, Frye suggests that practices “internally examine their approach. That includes reviewing example interactions in the office and developing protocol for responding to difficult patients.”
Part of that involves taking a close look at how you operate. Ask questions, says Frye. “Are we being empathetic? Are we in too huge of a hurry to take the time to address needs and concerns? Are patients having to wait too long?”
Steps to Take
“Also consider the environmental factors and culture of your office,” adds Frye. “Offering premium products and newer technologies designed to enhance adaption helps improve the patient experience. Using patient surveys and feedback will help measure performance and identify any additional needs.”
In response, create protocols and appropriate responses. Then coach and train your team. The point? “To always strive to improve patient and team relations,” concludes Frye.
What have you done in your practice to address the difficult patient? Tell us about it and share in the conversation on Facebook here.
Comments are closed.