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How a Mystery Shopper Can Help a Healthcare Practice

A mystery shopper can diagnose a mysterious case of low patient retention and low referrals. For a medical practice, fewer patients means less money, which can lead to a failed practice. But a mystery shopper can identify where the problem lies, and even suggest steps to fix it.

When it comes time to select a new doctor or health care facility, patients typically either ask friends and family for referrals, or use online review sites to make their decision. So a good reputation is vital to the health care professional’s success. Unfortunately, even if a health care facility is staffed with excellent doctors, scheduling issues, long wait times, confusing paperwork and rushed appointments can leave patients feeling dissatisfied and unhappy.

In order to find out what it is like to be in the patient’s shoes, doctors and health care practices now use a mystery shopper firm to better understand how their customer service can be improved. Mystery shopping audits are beneficial to any business where good customer service is essential to success, and medical facilities are no exception.

When a medical practice hires a mystery shopping agency, they will work together to establish a set of criteria that the mystery shopper should evaluate during their appointment. Typically, these tasks include:

* Ease of appointment scheduling. * Impression of front desk employees and administrative staff, including phone skills, overall attitude and helpfulness. * Effectiveness of check-in procedures. * Length of wait. * Cleanliness of office. * Efficiency of nurses. * Doctor’s bedside manner and knowledge. * Adequacy of time spent with patient.

In addition, health care agencies that operate several facilities may also request that the mystery shopper check to ensure that certain branding and signage is in place and properly displayed. Additionally, some practices elect to have mystery shoppers visit their competitors to gain valuable insight into what they could be doing differently.

Once the evaluation criteria is established, an unidentified, unannounced mystery shopper will begin to evaluate the facility from the moment they call to make their appointment. They will note their observations and complete a questionnaire and report post-appointment. This information will be returned to the mystery shopper agency, which will then be passed on to the client, the manager of the healthcare facility.

In addition to traditional mystery shopping audits, many health care facilities are now doing video mystery shopping audits, where the mystery shopper records their appointment with a discreet camera. With a video mystery shop, the health care facility will receive a video recording in addition to a post-audit questionnaire.

Mystery shopping audits are an invaluable resource for health care agencies. By gaining unbiased insights from the patient’s perspective, health care administrators can proactively improve their practice in order to ensure their patients are receiving the best possible care.