Customer Service. Not a phrase we hear in the health care industry very often. Oh, we talk about excellent care, high quality care, positive patient outcomes, and improved health almost every day.
What happens when we start thinking of our patients as customers? Do we adopt the policy that the customer is always right? I think we walk a slippery slope if we adopt that philosophy. But thinking about patients as customers forces us to think about what patients’ want in addition to thinking about what our patients’ need. Patients want to be treated kindly. Patients want their health care professional to listen to them when they come in for care. Patients want to understand the steps they need to take to become healthy (even if that step means losing 20 pounds).
At Katy Trail Community Health, we provide healthcare to patients who have multiple illnesses and multiple social issues. Many are single parents, some are not living in stable housing, many struggle to feed themselves and their children. Some of them struggle with mental illness, such as depression or anxiety.
We never know the burdens our patients’ carry, which is why it is so important that we treat them as if they are our customers. Kindness, attentiveness, listening, and responding to patient needs; this is the Katy Trail Community Health definition of customer service.
The providers and staff at Katy Trail Community Health continue to deliver great customer service to the most vulnerable people in our region. Let me share just one story.
A mother called Katy Trail Community Health concerned about her 8 year old who was a patient of KTCH. The child was up at 2:00 am wondering why she is on this earth, crying a lot, not eating, and not wanting to go to school. The mother was frightened for her daughter, but sent her to school to talk to school counselor.
The patient had missed her appointment that very morning, thinking the appointment was later in day. The patient was rescheduled to be seen that afternoon so we could get her to see our behavioral health consultant. When we called the mother back to give her the afternoon appointment time, she was still crying with concern about her daughter and stated she had no car to drive child to the appointment.
We tried to get a taxi or Oats ride for her but could not get a returned phone call. After consulting our leadership, a KTCH employee was granted permission to transport the mother and child to be seen in the clinic ASAP.
The mother was so thankful. While we had the child in the office, behavioral health provider came to see her on a warm hand off. We saw the mother as well for some of the same anxiety issues. We also set up an appointment with care coordination to see if there were other needs help the family address.
For the Katy Trail Community Heath family, customer service equals kindness, compassion and in the above example, responding to a family’s needs.