What Causes Poor Customer Service in Hospitals?

by Michael Wolfe; Updated September 26, 2017

Customer service in hospitals can vary greatly in quality. While some hospitals provide low wait times, friendly staff and professional, unhurried physicians, other hospitals do not have the means or will to provide such attentive care. The reasons a health care facility would deliver poor customer service can vary widely.

Poor Training

Many hospital staff provide poor customer service because they have not been adequately trained on how to offer better service to customers. Hospital staff may not have received appropriate instructions on how to speak to patients, how to complete work in a timely manner or how to conduct important medical procedures. In this case, the fault lies not so much with the staff members as with the management responsible for training them.

Underfunding

In many cases, hospitals may provide poor customer service because they lack the funds to provide better service. A lack of funds can manifest itself in many different ways, particularly in a public hospital or clinic that is incurring the costs of the treatment. Such a hospital may be less willing to offer preventive care or a number of treatments that are optional or not guaranteed to be effective.

Understaffing

Many hospitals simple have less staff than is necessary to perform the duties required of them. Although in some cases a shortage of staff may be caused by underfunding, the shortage may also result from misunderstanding by management about how many staff members are required to provide adequate care to patients. In some cases, what the patient considers "poor" customer service may be deemed adequate or even good by hospital administrators.

Emergency

Sometimes, a hospital may be adequately staffed and funded, but it simply has its hands full due to an emergency. For example, if a hospital is forced to respond to multiple patients with severe injuries after a local fire or other large-scale disaster, the staff may choose to concentrate their care on those most in need of treatment. This can leave other, less direly injured patients with less attention.

Long Hours

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, many hospital staff members are expected to work very long hours. Inexperienced physicians, such as interns and residences, may often be required to work shifts longer than 12 hours, with minimal time for rest and recuperation. Catching a staff member at the end of a long shift can mean administrators and health care providers are more likely to be forgetful, slow and inattentive.

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About the Author

Michael Wolfe has been writing and editing since 2005, with a background including both business and creative writing. He has worked as a reporter for a community newspaper in New York City and a federal policy newsletter in Washington, D.C. Wolfe holds a B.A. in art history and is a resident of Brooklyn, N.Y.

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