Managing Patient Complaints

A patient or family member is unhappy. Maybe she is displeased by the wait to see a provider, or she felt ill-treated, or she doesn’t like the way the business part of her visit went. Here are some tips practice managers recently shared with BillingInsider.

The key, they all agree, is taking time to listen and show compassion.

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Listen – What they perceive is real. Let the patient or family member tell you what he or she thinks is wrong. Don’t interrupt, try to mollify, or stop them.

Don’t take it personally – The person is complaining about a problem, not you. Divorce yourself from any negativity he or she may have and listen for the real issue.

Respond positively – Be empathetic. Reflect back what you think the patient or family member is saying. This lets them know you’re listening and helps clarify the issue.

Learn as much as you can – Ask questions so you understand as much as you can. Apologize for the negative experience.

Log the complaint – Keep a log telling who, what, and why. Leave space to document a resolution and a follow-up date. You can identify legitimate trends.

Be grateful – Thank the person. Explain what will happen from there, and ask if he or she would like to document it on a simple form.

Act – Investigate the issue with practice members involved and help develop a solution.

Follow-up – Contact the patient or family member. Let them know what the resolution taken is and how it will benefit them and other patients.

Practice managers also recommend posting a form on the practice’s website and providing a special email address for issues. Others recommend reviewing Internet community forums like CitySearch for feedback on your practice.

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