It's time for a reality check. Your veterinary practice may offer top-notch medicine, but how would you and your team be graded
on courtesy, respect, listening, and communication skills? These days, those aspects of client service are becoming more and
Starting this year, the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) has released the results
of an ongoing patient satisfaction survey. The survey was designed to be a standardized tool for measuring patients' perspectives
of hospital care—and the results affect all healthcare providers.
What makes this survey interesting to veterinarians is its choice of topics. Patients were asked questions like: "Did nurses
(or doctors) treat you with courtesy and respect?" "Did they listen carefully to you?" "Did they explain things in a way you
could understand?" Patients responded with "never," "sometimes," "usually," or "always."
If your clients were asked these questions about you and your team members, how would they respond? Hold a team meeting to
discuss the rules in your hospital for treating clients with courtesy and respect. Practice active listening, a technique
that helps you focus attention on the speaker. Develop guidelines for explaining things in terms that are easily understood.
As transparency in the medical profession continues to be a hot topic, more consumers will take notice of this kind of data.
As a result, they'll become increasingly concerned about the way they are spoken to and treated by healthcare professionals.
Take the time to improve your communication skills, and watch those "never" answers turn into "always." To read more about
the HCAHPS survey, visit
Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member Bob Levoy is a speaker and writer based in Roslyn, N.Y. His latest book is 222 Secrets of Hiring, Managing, and Retaining Great Employees in Healthcare Practices (Jones and Bartlett, 2007).