In today's competitive healthcare environment retaining patients is mission-critical. When care and treatment are universal, a health system's only differentiator is its patient experience. This makes each interaction with patients important and puts an emphasis on providing compassionate and courteous service from the moment of first contact.
Both empathy and compassion are essential skills for providers. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. In healthcare, this means putting yourself in the shoes of the patient. Compassion is similar to empathy but goes a step further to include taking action to help. When patients feel like their needs are understood and being met, they're more likely to have a positive experience. So, it’s no surprise that studies have found a correlation between a positive patient experience and these skills. Empathy has also been shown to build trust, generate loyalty, and increase satisfaction. And while it may seem like a soft skill, its importance should not be underestimated- in fact, empathy has been linked to better clinical outcomes.
Though these are often thought of as interpersonal skills, something that can only be demonstrated in person, they are just as, if not more so, important over the phone. Phone interactions are often the first point of contact between a patient and their provider, and they set the tone for the rest of the patient experience. Empathetic representatives are better able to understand patient needs and provide solutions. They're also better at navigating difficult or potential emergency situations because they can see multiple perspectives.
In today's fast-paced world, empathy is seen as a luxury- something that takes too much time and doesn't really get results. But empathy is actually essential to providing good customer service. And while empathy may seem like a difficult skill to teach, it is possible to train call center staff to be more empathetic. Here are two simple things that can go a long way to showing empathy over the phone:
This means repeating back what the patient has said, to ensure you understand their concerns.
These are phrases that show you understand how the patient is feeling. For example, you might say something like "That sounds really frustrating."
By using active listening skills and empathy statements, you can easily convey empathy even if you're not face-to-face with the patient. And when patients feel heard and understood, they're more likely to have a positive experience with their provider and be loyal to your organization. In fact, one study of call center interactions found this was the strongest predictor of patient loyalty.
Call center staff that employ empathy can assist in improving the patient experience and set your health system apart from the competition. That’s why at the core of all Envera’s customized patient access solutions is a team of highly trained Patient Access Coordinators (PACs) that are trained to extend care culture over the phone.