I was at a meeting with a young hospital executive recently when the topic turned to patient loyalty. Just how is it earned? And is it really a rarity these days? I could tell she was concerned about the subject yet excited about what could be accomplished with the right approach and attitude. She told me that most people in the healthcare field dont seem to understand the concept and that she believes it isnt as hard to gain loyalty from patients as some executives say it is.
I asked her to explain what she believed was the best path to patient loyalty, and her response was simple: Loyalty is based on little things, not the big stuff, she said. Its someone being polite to you and treating you with empathy and compassion when youre ill in a hospital. Its the doctor giving you a smile when he enters your room. Its the nurse who listens to you and doesnt rush off without even looking at you.
I told her that I understood what she was saying but that I still didnt get her point. Was she saying that such common courtesies and basic respect are hard to find in healthcare today? Its something Ive tried to teach the people who have any contact with patients. I ask them to go beyond their job descriptions and do the little things that earn patient loyalty.
The little things are what patients take away from their experience in a hospital, and most satisfaction surveys dont reflect the essence of the patient experience.