What Patients Want #3: Accountability

In our series on “What Patients Want,” we have talked about warm greetings and coordination. Today we focus on accountability. What does accountability mean?

  1. It means that someone within your practice takes ownership over a patient’s issue or concern, gathers the information and gets back to the patient in a timely manner.
  2. It means not playing the technology blame game when there is an issue with a missing fax, referral, test results, electronic health record or patient portal. These technology disconnects are a huge frustration for patients throughout the healthcare system. Take ownership and resolve issues. No one wants excuses. Patients want solutions and a human to help them.
  3. It means providing patients with a name and phone number to call if they have any questions or issues after they get home.
  4. If there is a wait, apologize and communicate. And do so more than once if possible. Explain the reason, especially if it involves a physician having to provide extra assistance with an urgent or emergent situation. People are more likely to understand a delay if they know you will do the same for them. If there is an extended delay, offer patients the opportunity to reschedule. 
  5. At patient checkout, ask: “How did it go?” or “Do you have any questions?” If any concerns are raised, help address and resolve them before the patient leaves. And always thank them.

What are some of the ways your team demonstrates accountability? How could it be enhanced throughout your practice?