CUSTOMER CARE: Are hospitals concerned?

Lately I have received quiet a number of feedback, comments, suggestions and questions on the Monday articles on Customer Service.

Lately I have received quiet a number of feedback, comments, suggestions and questions on the Monday articles on Customer Service.

I must confess that I’m happy many people enjoy reading them as it is a clear sign that together, if we all put in efforts,  we can in one way or the other improve on the image of customer service in Rwanda.

For this reason, for the coming weekks, I will be responding to some of your questions. The last I received was “how can health care people be part of the customer care campaign?”

This question is interesting in a sense that many people still link customer service the private sector alone. In today’s economy, the public services, government institutions and every single company that deals with customers need to improve on their services.

We can all agree that going for a good meal in a restaurant, or shopping in town is often our own personal decision and choice. But unfortunately, going to a hospital or a health center is never a joy. It is often an obligation.

We wish we didn’t have to. But when we are sick, we have no options than to go and seek medical attention.

Customers in hospitals are defined as every patient, family member, visitor, who comes for whatsoever reason they have. In addition to offering very good medical care to patients, hospitals and health centers are supposed to be good at customer service.

By customer service, I mean making the patient’s experience a positive one while in that hospital. Patients need to feel welcome and cared for. It also implies helping patients and their family members navigate through the difficult moment in a health center.

Last time I went to this hospital in my area at Kibagabaga and was so much impressed by the cleanliness of the place. The greenery and the benches in the gardens made me think for a second that I was in a recreational center.

This environment gave me such a peace of mind that even before meeting the doctor, I was less anxious.

You might think that the environment is not the important thing we look for when we go to a hospital but believe me it is an essential element in caring and curing patients.

A clean and spotless environment makes you feel better. I’m sure you don’t want to go to a hospital that is dirty, where the nurses and doctors have stains of blood in their blouses.

Hygiene is actually one of the pre requisites of all health centers.

Here below are the elements that can contribute to good customer care in health centers:

Greeting  and welcoming; Medics need to know that they have to greet customers and if possible introducing themselves by their name to their patients.

As patients, we do not want to wait for hours before someone takes care of us. We don’t want to be ignored.

A quick first contact reassures the patient that the hospital will provide directions or assistance when necessary.

Avoiding noises; One of the things that contribute to patient’s peace of mind is the quietness of a hospital.

Staffs should avoid shoes that make noise, telephones with loud ring tones and loud conversations in the corridors.

Keeping patients’ confidentiality and privacy; Customer service care in a hospital requires that the staff knock on patients’ doors for instance before entering. This should be the minimum to protect the dignity of patients.

It is also important that staff protect and keep confidential all the healthcare information concerning their patients by avoiding disclosing them to outsiders.

Improving on communication; As patients, we appreciate when health staffs listen carefully to us by focusing on us and checking for understanding.

I don’t know whether you have also noticed that doctors and lawyers are the people who ask the most of questions before making a diagnosis.

In a hospital, patients don’t want to be numbers or cases. They want to be assured that their ailments are well understood by the people who need to take care of us.

Though we acknowledge the fact that health people have a tedious and stressful job in dealing daily with our difficult and complicated health issues, all we want from them is to show empathy and care.