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Why Do We Tolerate Rudeness at the Doctor’s Office?

March 13, 2019

Operations Excellence

I was reading an article the other day about how Chic-fil-A is statistically the most polite quick-service/drive-thru restaurant chain. One of the main reasons for the distinction is that their employees are most likely to say “please” and “thank you” to drive-thru customers.

Truth be told, I don’t spend much time in these establishments and would never recommend one over another (or any of them). However, I did spend a good part of my life in the restaurant industry to pay my way through school, so it resonated with me as someone who now runs a healthcare practice.

It made me think about where we are as a society when something as simple as saying “please” and “thank you” is a standard that so few companies can attain.

Unfortunately, the healthcare industry is one of the worst offenders when it comes to delivering a poor customer experience. In fact, healthcare was at the bottom of the pack in Temkin Group’s 2018 customer experience ratings, just ahead of TV and internet service providers.

Of course, you don’t have to dig through mountains of data to see how patients are treated. Just walk into a doctor’s office or hospital. Patients expect to wait forever to be seen. They expect to be treated rudely. They expect to be aggravated.

I just don’t get it.

Could you imagine walking into any other business and tolerating people who are rude, don’t listen, and treat you like you’re lucky just to be there?

When you think about how much the average family spends on healthcare, why is the customer service bar set so low? Why do we expect better at the fast food drive-thru than we expect from a healthcare provider?

This is one of the reasons I developed the Operations Excellence management system that we use at Natural Healthcare Center. It focuses on automation, best practices and customer service to ensure that our non-clinical staff – the people with the maroon scrubs – provide every patient, family member and friend with a positive experience when they walk through our doors.

To be clear, I don’t hire people and train them to say “please” and “thank you”, or to smile, or to make eye contact. If that doesn’t come naturally, they can’t work here. When you walk through our door, you’ll feel welcome, listened to, and cared for. That should be a standard expectation.

And while other companies, regardless of industry, use technology and automation to eliminate staff, I use them to allow my staff to be more productive. They can focus on the patient because they’re not bogged down with redundant, repetitive tasks that a machine can do.

I mention Operations Excellence not to brag, but to point out that nobody should settle for the rude experiences that are so prevalent in healthcare today. Common courtesy and a pleasant demeanor should be basic expectations, not bonuses.

If you’re not happy with the way you’re treated when you see any healthcare provider, don’t assume that’s the way it has to be because that’s the way it’s always been. You deserve better.

Dr. Proodian

Dr. James Proodian is an accomplished chiropractic physician, health educator, and professional public speaker who founded Proodian Healthcare Family of Companies to help people feel better, function better, and live longer. His expertise is in identifying clinical imbalances and restoring the body to health and functionality. Contact: jproodian@naturalhc.com or (732) 222‑2219.