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Debunking Medical Mystery Shopping Myths for the Health Care Professional

A patient having his blood pressure taken by a...
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When it comes to gaining a competitive edge, more and more health care professionals are using mystery shoppers to better understand their patients’ experience. However, there are still some myths that prevent practices from utilizing this useful research opportunity.

The number one concern mystery shoppers hear from medical practices is that it will take time and attention away from real patients. Obviously, your patient’s health is of highest priority. That’s why medical mystery shoppers are trained to recognize when a patient comes in with an emergency and to remove themselves from the situation so that that person can be seen.

Furthermore, the use of secret shopper patients in the medical industry is backed by the American Medical Association. In June 2008, the Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs released a statement that said,

Physicians have an ethical responsibility to engage in activities that contribute to continual improvements in patient care. One method for promoting such quality improvement is through the use of secret shopper ‘patients’ who have been appropriately trained to provide feedback about physician performance in the clinical setting.

So how do you blind shop your own practice? You hire a mystery shopping company to appoint an unidentified, unannounced individual to schedule an appointment and experience the typical process of being a patient. Here are some of the insights you can gain from a medical mystery shopper:

  • Impression of front desk employee (phone skills, ease of appointment scheduling, overall attitude and helpfulness)
  • Effectiveness of check-in procedures
  • Cleanliness of office
  • Efficiency of nurses
  • Adequacy of time spent with patient

Once you receive your report from the mystery company, you can analyze the results and start implementing some improvements to your practice. You can also hire a secret shopper to act as a patient in your competitor’s office to gain perspective and competitive edge.By getting insight into the patient’s point of view and how your employees perform, you can make the necessary changes to give them the best medical care possible.

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