Definition of Customer Service in the Health Field

by Kyra Sheahan; Updated September 26, 2017
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Being a health care patient is difficult work. Not only do you have your health concerns to think about, but you are also bombarded with foreign medical terminology, paperwork and bills. According to a September 2006 article by the Healthcare Financial Management Association, maintaining successful patient relations is equally as important as the quality and value of care that a health care organization provides.

Significance

Customer service in health care is different than in other industries because the customers are recipients of medical services that are critical to their health. A sense of urgency penetrates the medical field’s customer service structure, as patients are attempting to navigate their way around the health care system. One thing that health care organizations should consider is that patients can shop around for their medical services. If a patient has a negative customer service experience at a hospital, it is possible for that patient to take his business elsewhere. As such, health care organizations must work hard and be innovative about how they can maintain good customer service relations with their consumers.

Patient Needs

According to the Healthcare Financial Management Association’s 2006 article, David C. Hammer explains that in today’s health care industry, patients are demanding more transparency when it comes to their medical services, as well as easier and more efficient ways to manage their bills and assistance with accessing medical resources. In response to the influx of technological advancements taking place in the health care field, more and more organizations are finding ways to streamline information and create systems that can benefit patients, such as patient information management systems. This, in turn, can improve customer service in the health care field.

Accessibility

Part of building a positive customer service relationship between patients and health care organizations can be done by increasing an organization’s accessibility to consumers. Making it easy for patients to contact their health representatives can be satisfying. Due to all of the ins and outs involved in the medical industry, patients can have questions about any part of their treatment, from prescriptions to bills. Being able to communicate with their medical providers easily is a customer service asset that patients will value.

Paperless Billing Options

Electronic billing systems have played a big part in the health care industry’s customer service efforts. Such systems provide patients with the ability to log on to their health care provider’s website and access their personal billing information. According to an update by IBM, health care facilities, such as Novant Health, are developing ways to make it easier on patients to pay bills and manage their medical expenses. Having online access to bills helps patients understand their bills, and may be more willing to pay them. Patients can get quick answers to their payment and billing questions at their fingertips, which can enhance the customer service experience a patient has.

Providing Educational Resources

Another way that health care companies can ensure positive customer service relations with patients is by providing patients with educational resources. In the Healthcare Financial Management Association’s 2006 article, David C. Hammer explains that patients don’t always know how to navigate the medical system, and are not aware of the information and resources that are available to them. Providing educational resources for patients is a good customer service practice, because it can make the patient feel valued and supported with their care.

About the Author

Kyra Sheahan has been a writer for various publications since 2008. Her work has been featured in "The Desert Leaf" and "Kentucky Doc Magazine," covering health and wellness, environmental conservatism and DIY crafts. Sheahan holds an M.B.A. with an emphasis in finance.

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