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Patients ARE Customers
by Karon Thackston
(c) 2000 Karon Thackston

Have you been to the doctor's office lately? Have you been to the hospital? I must say, I'm a bit distraught about the customer service habits of those who work in the medical field.

For years I've wondered why - when people aren't feeling their best anyway - some medical professionals add insult to injury (or illness). Granted, there are doctors, nurses, technicians and aids that put great emphasis on their patients, and I'll applaud you now! Thank you for your care!

However, let's take a brief look at how customer service can - and should - play an active role in the life of care- givers.

Contrary to popular belief, patients ARE customers. They are paying - a LOT of money I might add - for a product or service. Medical facilities can adhere to customer service principles just as easily as other types of businesses. For those in the medical profession, perhaps this ONE basic customer service foundation should be focused on... The Customer Comes First.

A Simple Change Makes ALL The Difference
The customer is a patient and is also not feeling well. Therefore, medical institutions should put added emphasis on taking excellent care of customers.

If a customer with a broken leg walked into YOUR business, you would scurry to find him a chair, ask if you could bring the items he is shopping for TO him, and make several other concessions. So, when we visit an emergency room, rather than asking the patient to sit quietly and fill out forms, give a little attention.

Tell the patient you're sorry they are in pain. Let them know that you're doing everything you can to have them seen as quickly as possible.

I realize the emergency room is an extremely busy place. I also realize that many other life-threatening conditions are placed before the treatment of a broken leg, etc. Those are not my points.

During my senior year in high school, I became very accident prone. I made about six trips to the emergency room in one semester! At no time did I ever have an admissions clerk ask if I was alright. Most didn't show any type of common courtesy at all. No one said, "please" or "thank you"... only "I need your insurance card" and "you'll have to fill this out".

Granted, I was in high school a LONG time ago. The focus on customer service was not as prominent then as it is today. Perhaps people then didn't realize that showing a little compassion goes a long way.

While it may sound petty, showing concern for your customers is one of the cornerstones of providing great service. If you are dealing with customers who aren't feeling well and are looking to you for help, one would think service would play an even more important role.

I have been told by a few friends who work at hospitals that much of the non-caring attitude comes from being exposed to emergency situations day in and day out. However, the patient ISN'T exposed to it everyday and THEY are the ones who need special care... not the doctor or nurse.

I'll say it again... I APPLAUD THOSE WHO MAKE SERVICE A PRIORTIY! You are rare indeed. However, for the medical professionals who don't, I urge you to reconsider your position. Reaching out to people in pain or sickness, and not just treating them, will do wonders for the patient... and YOU. Watching the movie Patch Adams might be a good place to start.

Karon Thackston may be contacted at Click here to view more of their articles.
Karon is Owner and President of KT & Associates who offers targeted copywriting, copy editing & ghost writing services. Subscribe to KT & Associates' Ezine "Business Essentials" at or visit her site at

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