MGMA survey: Practice staff fall short on customer service, revenue cycle management strategies

Doctor with patient
Practices could invest a bit more in customer service training, managers said in a new survey.

Staff at physician practices could benefit from a little more customer service training, leaders say.

The Medical Group Management Association polled 931 practice leaders and nearly half (47%) said that staff could use additional practice in customer service. Twenty percent of respondents said staff need extra revenue cycle management training, while 13% said government relations and 12% said leadership development were most important.

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“Any customer-facing organization must be focused on delivering a high level of customer service, and medical practices face this challenge with patient satisfaction playing an increasing role in reimbursement and physician compensation,” according to MGMA.

RELATED: A checklist for patient satisfaction

Customer service can touch all facets of a patient’s care journey, and includes effective communication and providing comfort. Providers who were empathetic when treating patients had higher satisfaction scores, research shows.

Becoming an effective communicator requires time and effort; one researcher said he worked as much on his communication as he did on medical technique.

Good customer service is especially important in the era of online reviews. Practices looking to improve customer service can:

  • Acknowledge wait times. An apology goes a long way.
  • Make a good first impression. The first impression could determine if a patient will return.
  • Personalize care. Treat patients like family, not like they’re on an assembly line.

Other solutions include practicing phone etiquette and using data analytics to reduce wait times and make appointment scheduling more efficient.

Practice managers can also nurture improvements in areas such as customer service by fostering growth in their own leadership, according to the article. It’s important to strike a balance in management styles and approaches to fit the staff at a specific practice, MGMA recommends.

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