3 Best Practices for Handling Patient Complaints

Three ambulatory surgery center administrators discuss tactics for collecting, benchmarking and responding to patient dissatisfaction.

1. Meet regularly to discuss patient complaints. David G. Daniel, CEO of Lakeland (Fla.) Surgical & Diagnostic Center and Emily Duncan, executive director of the LSDC Griffin Road campus, say Mr. Daniel meets regularly with the director of CTQ Solutions to discuss the ASC's patient complaints and decide how to respond to each one. This collaboration can reduce the risk of bad judgment on the part of a single employee. If your ASC uses an outsourced company to collect patient complaints and satisfaction scores, meet regularly with a staff member from the organization to discuss "best practices" for responding to complaints, as well as tricks other centers have tried.

2. Don't jump to conclusions. Sandra Jones, executive vice president of ASD Management, says ASC administrators should be careful about assuming that patients who complain are being overly negative. You might assume your physicians and staff members know best, but be careful about jumping to conclusions even if you think your center performed correctly. A patient who feels humiliated or ignored by your ASC will cause much more trouble than a patient whose complaint is taken into consideration and who receives sincere feedback, she says.

3. Benchmark against other centers.
According to Diane Wallace, executive director of Menomonee Falls (Wis.) Ambulatory Surgery Center, ASCs can collect data on the number of formal complaints for a set time period and benchmark that data against other ASCs. If you work with other ASCs in your area on benchmarking, you may be able to compare your patient complaint numbers with other local facilities. Otherwise, Ms. Wallace says her ASC puts together a profile and submits the data to the national ASC Association, then compares the data they submitted to data from other ASCs around the country. Your ASC can use this information to recognize your center's "standard" number of complaints and then set goals to lower that number.

Read more ASC best practices:

-5 Ways to Incent Good Behavior With Staff Bonuses

-4 Steps on Implementing a Robust Performance Improvement Process

-5 Keys to Financing Your Physician-Owned Surgery Center

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