The landscape of the health care market is changing, and with 60% of prospective patients considering online reviews, patient satisfaction matters now more than ever. From the moment they call to schedule an appointment to their follow-up meeting, patients are looking for exceptional experiences.
It should come as no surprise that a significant component of patient satisfaction is the employees they interact with. Employees hold power to comfort and reassure or unnerve and agitate a patient, directly affecting that patient’s experience.
Patient interactions may seem like a natural-born skill for some people but noticing subtle cues and using positive language can be difficult for even the most well-intentioned staff member. With patient care training, there are simple adjustments one can make to leave the patient feeling taken care of.
Often, we use language that comes most naturally to us without considering how it may be perceived. In actuality, the words we use have a large impact on our patients. It's not common for negative language to be used unintentionally; however, the result can be a patient who perceives the message as unhelpful. Examples of negative language are "can't," "unable," and "won't." Another example is the phrase, "I'm sorry." When a patient hears this phrase, they may feel that anything that follows is something negative. "I'm sorry we don't have that time available," or "I'm sorry all staff is busy right now." Negative language demonstrates that we are not able to help the patient with what they need. This might be the case occasionally, but repositioning those messages using positive language can lead to better patient experiences
Positive language tells the patient instead what we can do for them. It also makes the patient feel cared for throughout their journey and creates a better experience. Below are examples of how to turn a negative phrase into a positive interaction.
A patient calls and asks to get scheduled for a hearing consult this week.
Instead of saying, “I’m sorry, but we can’t get you in until Thursday morning.”
Try saying, “We can get you in Thursday morning or any time on Friday.”
A patient calls in wanting to see if their hearing consult is covered by their insurance.
Instead of saying, “I’m not sure what your insurance covers, you’d have to ask them.”
Try saying, “Your insurance company will be able to tell you if this is covered. I would be happy to call them and ask. Can I get the phone number on the back of your card?”
Patient satisfaction is becoming increasingly necessary to stay relevant. Patient care training will not only better equip your staff to deliver an exceptional experience but will also boost their confidence in doing so. While it may feel daunting to add another item to your plate, implementing positive language can dramatically improve your patient experience and satisfaction.