I write this article as a complete novice to the medical profession, however, life has given me ample opportunities to be on the other side of the table, yes, as a recipient of the medical services. I have been to a clinic, a nursing home, a big hospital, a super speciality hospital, a pathology lab and of course not to miss my good old neighbourhood medical store.
Right from my childhood I hated visiting the doctor for the dreaded needle and syringe threat that I used to get for not taking medicines when ill (and sometimes was threatened when I didn’t do my home work!). I distinctly remember my first “positive” impression about a doctor came while watching the old black & white classic “Dr. Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani”, aired on Doordarshan when I was in my third standard. While I felt very soft at heart when the movie ended, I could not understand at that age, why did Dr. Kotnis not care about himself if he was a doctor? Why he had to die? Why didn’t he take rest? Why did he go in the toxic rain? Infact little did I realise that it was my first encounter with the concept of “Care Beyond Cure”.
I am firm believer in The Power of Care, which all living beings have and especially that human beings can generate for every other living being on earth, and I don’t believe that any medical professional can be successful without having the human values of empathy, love, care, trust & faith. And contrary to most of the people I know, I believe that medical profession is not just about just making money, while many may perceive it so. Much more than how an engineer feels when a beam cracks, how an artist feels when the act is not applauded, how a cook feels when a dish is not appreciated, a doctor feels more miserable to see the patient not recovering.
Today, with all the world’s technology & advancement at hand can we actually say that healthcare has little left to achieve? – The obvious answer is a “NO”.
In fact the need of the hour is to reach out to people not only to cure but to “Cure with Care”. Many big organizations are attempting to do this and have achieved some success, but that kind of service is still out of bounds of an average common man in terms of affordability.
All patients must have some basic access to care. This includes being adequately informed about the diagnosis, the options that are available for treatment, financials and options of that aspect. Equally important, those accompanying a patient to care for him/her must be given information, comforts and access to easy dealing with the multiple healthcare professionals & administrative staff that needs to be coordinated with. So what should be done?
The time is just ripe to build a “Customer Service” blueprint for healthcare. This will not only help in guarantee minimum service, but will also lay the foundation for further development.
Yes, I am talking about “Customer Relationship Management” (CRM). And given today’s scenario CRM should not get reduced to a fancy three letter acronym which is a “Must Have” department for every organization, but in fact CRM should be a strategic initiative by an organization.
What is CRM?
CRM is the business strategy which ensures:
- Maximum return on spend per customer
- Reduced customer acquisition costs
- Motivates customer to be a brand ambassador
While the above definition may sound more “Business Like” and not “Service Like”, but it is extremely important to have self sustainable model, only then it is possible to effect the cultural changes over the period of time.
What does a customer want?
Customer expectations can be divided into two levels:
Level I – The Basics:
- A human interface & empathetic handling
- Quick response to a query
- Clear service standards & guarantees for all services provided
- Convenience to contact & speed of access
- Standardized customer service from anyone in the organization regardless of roles
- 24/7 access to information & emergency services
- Single contact & reliable resolution
- Guaranteed quality and reliability of all information provided
Level II – The Delighters:
- An economical package & fair pricing
- Proactive & up-to-date information on progress
- Front line empowered to make decisions
- Partnership with and gateway to other services like TPA, Medical Store, Pathology etc.
- Open and fair handling of complaints with agreed remedies
- Instant access for all possible facilities
- Speedy & single window handling of all administrative coordination
Just like the medical standards & accreditation, there should be “Service Standards” and “Service Accreditations” for medical institutions also. Hotels are accredited for their service then why not Healthcare? This will not only help deliver better service to the patients but also induce healthy competition and optimize customer expectations.