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Two weeks ago, I worked with the staff at a large, local primary care practice teaching them some basic customer service-type skills to help them better manage their patients and, truthfully, improve their own job satisfaction, too. Nurses, receptionists, the referral group, billing and cashiers – clinical and non-clinical staff attended. From making lists of the things their patients complain about most (you guessed it – prolonged time in the waiting room), to determining what the benefits to managing things differently might be (fewer headaches for everyone), we arrived at some simple and no-cost approaches they could use. Their assignment, then, was to begin implementing some of those ideas, to assess what did, or did not work, and to begin thinking themselves of ways they could improve that constant patient interface that can become so problematic for everyone. Then, after ten days of practice, we came back together to debrief. Now, I’ll admit… I was a little nervous. I had no idea what to expect. Had it worked? Did they actually implement some of our ideas? And if they did, what was their assessment of success? Turns out…. They loved it! Many of the ideas worked very well. They were pleased, patients were pleased… I’m going to share a couple of examples with you, because they will help you with your work with patients, caregivers, providers and others you interface with, too. The Waiting Room: My question to the group during the first workshop was, “You walk into a crowded restaurant, look around you, see that there are many people waiting, and what’s the first thing you ask the host?” The answer, of course, is “How long is the wait?” But patients rarely do that. They walk into a crowded waiting room, check in, and sit down. They don’t ask how long the wait is – then they get upset if it’s “too long” – which each of them defines differently. That’s a major source of friction (which no doubt raises blood pressures, too) – and it’s mostly unnecessary. A two-pronged approach can satisfy most (not all) of those frustrations. …