Every business has to deal with dissatisfied customers. And in urgent care, the odds are stacked against you. The people seeing you probably don’t want to be there, and many come in feeling unwell. Top that off with some uncontrollable factors — like unexpectedly high visit volume jacking up wait times — and you have a higher chance of people leaving upset.
If you’re unable to resolve the situation when dealing with angry patients, you don’t just risk losing them as a return patient. Angry people are more likely to post reviews, hurting your chances of attracting new patients.
That said, you can teach your staff how to deal with angry patients in a way that helps them diffuse the situation. You can also take steps to help curtail these situations (even when it comes to wait time.)
Your standard operating procedures should provide staff with a clear process for these situations. More importantly, you want to train staff on these guidelines so that not only is everyone consistent, but they’re prepared when it happens. Base your guidelines on the situations you handle most frequently, but Alan Ayers, President of Experity Consulting, recommends these general rules of thumb to consider:
Following these simple steps can help foster a meaningful dialogue with patients focused on improving the urgent care experience. The ultimate end result should be happier patients, reduced stress on staff and providers, and positive word of mouth — all of which benefit the center’s bottom line.
The best way to avoid dealing with angry patients is to keep them as happy as possible – or eliminate some of the factors that make them angry to begin with, We mentioned that many situations feel out of our control. But are they really? Let’s assume your staff has mastered exceptional patient care. We know that the top reason patients leave without being seen is wait time. It’s fair to say that wait time and waiting room time are then the most likely reasons to either exacerbate or create a bad situation.
Here are some ways you can address these factors for a better patient experience:
Wait time: Reduce wait time by using a Patient Engagement (PE) solution that not only cuts time through pre-registration, but also makes the wait more bearable with smart queues (letting patients get in a virtual line,) and real-time updates to wait length status. Learn about this in the blog Solving the Top Reason Patients LWBS: Wait Time
Waiting room time: PE helps speed things up ahead of the treatment, but if providers and practitioners are bogged down, you probably have some opportunities to be more efficient. If your EMR/PM is built for a hospital, it’s likely bottlenecking your workflow. Consider an EMR/PM that is built specifically for urgent care – reducing clicks, helping improve accuracy, and streamlining everything to reduce charting to less than a minute. Hear what Insight Urgent Care had to say about efficiencies gained by switching from Athena to Experity
Additionally, you can help with front desk efficiency that not only helps with throughput, but also leads to cleaner billing processes. Check out Urgent Care Billing Optimization: How to Improve Your RCM and our Front Desk Checklist PDF for Better Urgent Care Billing
Curious about an urgent-care-specific EMR/PM? See what that means for your practice. Visit our product page and watch the quick video.