Sprinkling Pixiedust on Patient Experience

Elizabeth (Liddy) Deacon wasn’t always a Patient Experience Manager at Ochsner Health System. Once upon a time, she worked for a renowned theme park in the US.

At the park, that Deacon learned about the qualities of exceptional customer service – qualities she believes can be applied in a healthcare setting to bring a little magic to patient experience.

“Any healthcare journey is an emotional one,” says Deacon.

Unlike a theme park, says Deacon, patients don’t usually visit healthcare facilities because they want to. Most visits, especially to hospitals, are related to illness or injury. Deacon says it is important to remember that you’re not just interacting with a patient; you’re interacting with a person who is worried about their test results or a concerned parent.

Healthcare environments have a unique customer mix. And with so many complex needs, incorporating person-centric customer service tactics into what is often a task-oriented environment can be a “big jump.”

One way to get started, according to Deacon, is to think of any time spent in view of patients as “on stage time” and to treat those periods as opportunities to smile, make dialogue and recognize the unmet need behind questions asked by patients and caregivers. In practice, this means thinking about what the underlying question is when, for example, a patient asks if you know where their provider is. Have they been waiting a long time and want to know when they will be seen? Do they have question that they are waiting to ask that you could get started on helping them with?

"If it sounds like a silly question, it’s never silly to them. And so think about what they’re really asking you for,” says Deacon.

Simple customer service techniques like these can give front-line staff members the tools to elevate a good patient experience to an exceptional one.

To learn about interacting with difficult patients and how to set expectations for staff around Liddy’s methods, watch the full webinar.


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