Medical mystery shopping has been around for quite some time; however, it has gained momentum as of late. In fact, The American Medical Association is still considering endorsing mystery shopping. Many people feel that it may be intrusive to the real patients in a clinic or hospital. However, when done properly, this is simply not true. Outlined below are some FAQ’s about Medical Mystery Shopping you might find interesting:
1. How do the shoppers judge clinical skills? Shoppers are evaluating interpersonal skills rather than clinical skills. We are evaluating the overall experience of the visit from the first phone call to make the appointment, to the actual visit. How friendly was the staff? What was the wait time? Was the call placed on hold, and for how long? This can be done with a variety of scenarios, such as a new patient visit, walk-in visit, physician interview and telephone inquiries.
2. How does HIPPA play into mystery shopping? The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act includes strict requirements regarding privacy. We are very careful not to capture any information about another patient. Rather, the entire report is geared to the shopper’s own unique visit. This is the reason we would never use video or audio devices on an onsite visit.
3. What happens if the office is unusually busy because of high demand or an emergency situation? The shopper is trained not to wait during these conditions. They will leave and make another appointment for another time. It is never our intention to intrude on treatment of real patients.
4. How far does the treatment go? Shoppers will generally present a situation that does not involve invasive procedures of any kind. This can include a new physician interview, basic physical, employment physical, and other simple, non-invasive procedures.
5. What types of facilities can be mystery shopped? Mystery shopping is not only limited to doctor’s offices. Other facilities that have used mystery shopping services include urgent care centers, walk-in clinics, hospitals, plastic surgeons, optometrists and ophthalmologists, dentists, med-spas, managed care groups, insurance providers, individual and group practices, practice management consultants, medical marketing firms, healthcare manufacturers, nursing homes and assisted living communities.
6. Why is medical mystery shopping becoming so popular? Because people are starting to shop around for their health care. A rude office employee or nurse can cause a new patient to think twice before continuing with the clinic. Consistently long wait times can do the same. Doctors could be losing patients without ever really understanding why. Doctors are in business too. They need to be able to utilize the same customer satisfaction tools used by other industries to ensure accountability among their staff, increase business, and maintain patient loyalty.