For more satisfied patients, take 3 lessons from the Ritz

interior of a Ritz Carlton
Physicians can learn from luxury hotels about how to provide better customer service to patients.

Practices that want more satisfied patients can take a page out of the Ritz-Carlton’s playbook.

To truly reform the healthcare system, practices must bring concierge-level care to every patient, not just those who can pay extra to get the “Ritz” treatment in their medical care, Horst Schulze, former chief operating officer of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, writes in a piece for Medical Economics. But usually there a big difference between checking in at the doctor’s office and checking in to one of the Ritz’s luxury hotels.

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So what can physicians learn from the Ritz? Three things, says Schulze:

First, make customer service and the patient experience a priority. Make sure you meet customer expectations that the office visit is not just nice, but caring. Offer a welcoming greeting and a warmth in your interaction. Help patients overcome obstacles to care, such as by offering on-site dispensing of medications or providing courtesy transportation.

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Second, ensure your practice operates efficiently. That goes hand-in-hand with customer service. “True efficiency means eliminating mistakes to improve the product and reduce cost,” says Schulze, who is now CEO of Capella Hotel Group, a luxury hotel management company and a board member of ChenMed, a practice dedicated to improving the patient experience. You aren’t more efficient when you reduce time with patients or get paid to provide more costly tests and procedures, he argues, as that undermines your relationship with patients.

Third, communicate the need to provide extraordinary customer service every day to all employees, from physicians to front desk staff. Rude staff can damage the patient experience, and conversely, patients will notice good customer service.