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Healthcare: Why Becoming Intentional in Service is Not Just a Buzzword

March 9, 2016

By John Cook

Chad, a senior pre-med student at Appalachian State University and a server at our local Cracker Barrel, raises the bar on service excellence. His smile and passion for life inspires and charms. Chad is intentional. As a frequent customer at his establishment, he knows my name, understands my likes and dislikes, and always remembers what is going on in my life. I often think of the support and kindness he showed at the passing of my mother. Most of the time, many of us wait in line for a table in Chad’s section.

Service Excellence in healthcare is no longer an idea or a buzz word. Our reimbursements, livelihoods, and continued business depend on it. As it is for Chad, it now must become a foundation of who we are. Let’s become like Chad and go beyond in service excellence.As revenue cycle professionals, we have the opportunity to make the first and lasting impression. It has to be more than an intention. Excellence must be intentional.

Consider the touch points we have available:

  • Scheduling
  • Switchboard
  • Pre-Admission
  • Admission Representative
  • ED Admission Representative
  • Information Desk
  • Call Center

How many times do we, as consumers, consider the first impression as the lasting impression? If a patient or family member are harmed by their initial experience, the rest of the hospital experience will be tainted. Although the clinical piece may be perfect, the first experience still exist. The opportunity rest on us to get it right the first time.

Who is your healthcare provider? Why?

Just as we trust one business over another, the same is true with our healthcare provider. Consumers are shopping these days.
As professionals it is important to understand patient frustrations. Bottom line, our consumers do not necessarily want to be at our place of business. They are experiencing all kinds of emotions such as anxiety, fear, and potential financial burdens. They are altered in some way.

Being intentional is simply getting started.

Start with leaving your problems and issues either at home or at the door. It requires being positive. Organization is critical. Always make necessary adjustments as you begin each day.

Patient engagement begins with gaining trust. The greeting is critical. Listen closely and clarify if necessary. Ask the appropriate questions, beyond the yes and no. The patient has to feel as if they are the most important activity of your day. Each situation is unique and must be treated as such. No judging.

What is the absolute worst comment that can be made to a patient or family member at any time during their patient experience?

We are so short-handed!!

As a family member caring for my mother, a nurse made such a comment. What that said to me was you do not have the resources to care for my mother.

Now is the time to shine. The critical moment is the productive use of the patient engagement. Become an advocate for the patient. Turn the engagement into a win-win situation. Educate and inform the patient. Always keep promises made.
What are the pieces of your puzzle that may be missing?

  • Technology
  • Centralization
  • Options for the patient (financing, financial assistance, Medicaid eligibility assistance)
  • Knowledge
  • Training

Consider your role as a catalyst, a person who’s talk, demeanor, and enthusiasm impact another person.
Be intentional. Make your best practices consistency, resolution, and empowerment. Put yourself in their shoes.

Excerpt from “Taking the Cuss Out of Customer Service” training by John Cook. Training available by contacting John Cook at jcook [at]

Affiliations Audits & Achievements

  • HFMA: Healthcare, financial, management, association
  • AAHAM: American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management
  • ACA International

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