Top 7 Ways to Improve Customer Service in Healthcare


December 15, 2022

Written by

Merlene Leano

The issue of health is a cause of anxiety for many people. It can be a sensitive subject, whether it's a routine check-up, purchasing medications, getting x-rays, or inquiring about health insurance.

Due to these reasons, a more critical eye is pointed towards choosing the right medical company. Particularly after the outbreak of the pandemic, when the general public's health consciousness increased. After all, it requires a lot of trust to hand over the reins of one’s health to another. This trust starts with the events leading to a transaction and extends beyond the patient’s exit.

How can factors outside the actual medical procedures affect the trust of patients? 

Believe it or not, customer service is part of the healthcare experience. It may not be something as conspicuous as an attendant waiting at the door or fancy packaging, but it’s customer service for healthcare all the same. What is excellent customer service in healthcare? Let’s get into the details.

What Is Customer Service in Healthcare?

Customer service is the service offered before and after transacting with a customer. This  involves the usage of a product, a service, or just the transaction process itself. The quality of this service plays a part in delivering a satisfying customer experience.

What does customer service mean to you in healthcare?

Technically, every member of a healthcare institution can be considered a customer service representative, and the customers are patients. Combining the nature of the medical industry with customer service, it is understood to have a customer-centric approach.

But because the number of patients comes and goes and the hospital doesn't have enough staff, customer service is often put aside in favor of other things. 

Nevertheless, the patients expect to be given high quality attention and care, notably because it’s healthcare. It goes beyond money and, at worse, is a matter of life and death. To elaborate, here are some major reasons why providing excellent customer service in healthcare is imperative.

Why is Customer Service Important in Healthcare

  • Can Save Lives

It takes a lot of time to physically locate patients when information needs to be shared. It’s even more difficult when there is a lack of patient data integrity, making the needed information hard to find on both the patient's and staff’s sides.

With a shorter wait time and proper filtering, inquiries can be sorted by priority and addressed in due time. Urgent inquiries can then be addressed immediately, and patients who cannot physically go to the healthcare institution have an accessible option.

  • Makes Room for Proactive Service and A Better Follow-up Setting

Proactive healthcare service is different from ads and spam from brands. People are less likely to ignore notifications regarding their healthcare. 

By sending relevant reminders and updates, you show the patient that you care about their wellbeing even after their transaction. Focusing on patient care gives them a better experience, which makes them trust the medical facility even more. 

  • Patient Satisfaction

A high quality healthcare customer service shows that the patients are being taken care of. If that’s the case, they are more likely to come back for future medical matters.

Customers are also now more aware than ever. With the amount of information available on the internet, they are able to do their own research on the medical company, their practices, and even specific doctors. 

When the service exceeds expectations, the data they gather can be used to refer back when recommended. But so does the opposite, in which an unsatisfying experience can be shown to a lot of eyes.

  • Data for Healthcare Service Improvement

Whether it’s the quality of the customer service, the state of the physical establishment itself, or the staff themselves, it’s not just the personal and medical data that can be gathered but also the areas in which their services could be improved. 

This data can be gathered in several ways: directly asking the patients, letting them answer a physical or digital customer satisfaction form, and performing surveys. Weaknesses can be pointed out and addressed, and strengths can be maintained and upgraded.

  • Healthcare Reputation

The internet is the patient’s ally. One bad review from an unhappy customer can reach a large number of people and have a big effect on the reviewed entity.

With their health on the line, people will be far more cautious and critical with their reputation and data. And just like businesses in other industries, reviews play a big part in retaining and getting new clients.

A satisfied patient is more likely to favor the medical institution in the future. They can trust the medical company with the health and safety of anyone they know, and they can even recommend it to others. 

7 Ways To Improve Customer Service In Healthcare

Regardless what type of medical institution you belong to and how big it is, customer service greatly impacts the patient’s trust. Here are some ways to teach you how to improve customer service in healthcare.

  • Provide Accessible Channels 

One way of greatly improving customer service in healthcare is by providing more communication channels. It creates more interaction with more patients and is also a point of convenience, as not all patients can be contacted through just one channel.

Besides the on-call support, you can add a live chat option to your website. Instead of waiting for an email response, clients can instead immediately get access to an agent and state their inquiries. 

Another is through social media websites. Why not use a channel that more than four billion people use every day? 

These websites and applications are equipped with multiple modes of communication to choose from. In addition, the number of people joining and becoming active on social media is only going to increase.

  • Streamline Patient Data 

The trouble with relying on printed data is that it can be lost or misplaced and is difficult to update. It also takes up a lot of space, particularly at bigger institutions or those with very extensive records.

With centralized patient data, there is no need to ask patients additional questions that may cause frustration. The information will also be up-to-date, so there won't be any false information that could hurt the person's health.

Interactions will be much more productive when context can be inferred faster. They can talk to a registered health care worker, get their medicine, or go to the right department right away. 

  • Personalize Patient Interaction

With this available data, representatives can personalize their interactions with patients. By not asking for basic information at the start of a conversation, less time is wasted and the conversation is more productive. Relevant updates can also be directed to patients who can best benefit from them. 

  • Provide Administrative and Help Desk Services

Customers hate waiting in long lines at establishments. It's even more frustrating when the answers aren't good enough or can't be given at all. 

The added communication channels provide more options for patients to address administrative concerns. Having pre-written responses to frequently asked questions has the potential to cut those lines in half. The rest can then be sorted by priority and answered in an organized manner.

Schedules can also be a source of frustration for many. Sending reminders and changes to the schedule can help keep things from getting mixed up. If a medical professional is not available, the staff can immediately alert the patient. On the other hand, the next patient can be moved up to an earlier time.

  • Staff Training

The presence of customer service is one thing. The quality of that customer service is another matter entirely. 

Finding good representatives or giving them training can be expensive, but in the long run, the pros can outweigh the cons. You could even avoid disastrous mistakes that may happen if an inadequately skilled representative were to handle a medical emergency.

  • Communicate in a Respectful and Cordial Manner

Tone matters in customer service, notably when dealing with frustrated and angry clients. When feeling these high-intensity emotions, even a cordial tone can be interpreted as patronizing.

Be understanding and exercise empathy in these situations. Empathy is a crucial factor in customer service in the medical field. There are some situations and pieces of information that need to be shared with care.

One way to exercise empathy is by adopting their client’s perspective and walking in their shoes. What are the situations they often encounter when entering a healthcare institution? What would you feel if a member of the staff treated you a certain way?  

Furthermore, it’s best to relay the information in a way that a regular person can understand. Remember that most of the patients are not medical professionals or do not have in-depth medical knowledge. 

When it's not possible to hire customer service workers in-house, the best thing to do is to outsource. This is especially true for small to midsized healthcare institutions, which may not have enough resources to add and maintain in-house customer service representatives.

Outsourcing healthcare customer support services provides the following solutions:

  • Omnichannel Support

Omnichannel support comes not just with the availability of all communication channels but also with the centralization of data gathered from interactions across all of them. It’s beneficial for all types and sizes of healthcare institutions.

  • Scalability

Healthcare customer service outsourcing enables a more scalable model. Depending on the size of the health institution and how busy it is, it will be easier to adjust the number of representatives on duty.

This option is best for low-staffed health companies. With a low number of staff, they may not be capable of around-the-clock customer service and support channel management. There is less risk involved and less resource waste from adjusting the number of in-house representatives. 

  • AI-capable Live Chat

A live chat service that is outsourced allows for a more active operation. A company that helps customers may even have AI that can answer frequently asked questions and send urgent or hard questions to a representative who is available. 

  • Accessibility

With outsourcing, you can run a customer service operation that works around the clock and over multiple channels. This broadens the clientele that can be reached and the number of inquiries that can be addressed. Another plus is the accommodation of language preferences.

This is helpful for medical facilities with a small number of employees because it lets the staff focus on front desk tasks instead. 

The Wealth In Health

Healthcare is not exactly the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about customer service. Almost everyone agrees that most of the time, the experience is stressful or at least not fun. 

Well, it doesn’t have to be. 

Both healthcare and customer service are customer-centric, hence requiring empathy in their approaches. Because in healthcare, customers are different from those who are looking to buy a product in a shop.

People need healthcare facilities for their overall health and wellbeing. Healthcare facilities need the trust of patients in order to thrive. But in the medical industry, the consequences of terrible services go far beyond the establishment’s bottom line. 

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