There are countless mystery allaboutshoppingtrends companies worldwide; approximately 250 are members of The Mystery Shopping Providers Association. To become a member you must be in business a minimum of two years and uphold a solid reputation in the industry. References are verified and members adhere to a strict code of ethics.
There are a small number of members that specialize in healthcare and understand the intricacies of the industry. If a healthcare organization or facility is considering a mystery shopping program, it is highly recommended they hire a company that has extensive experience in healthcare; ask how many healthcare shops they have conducted and for whom. Ask what percentage of their business is dedicated to the healthcare industry. Check references and listen for language that will assure they have a complete understanding of the healthcare industry. There is a vast difference between mystery shopping for the retail industry and healthcare or long term care.
Specialized companies recruit and train experienced mystery shoppers to be their “secret/mystery patients”. They are trained specific to healthcare with an understanding of the HIPAA Privacy Rule and the specific needs of the given client and their specialty. Ask who has access to the evaluations; are they stored securely? Shoppers should be asked to sign a confidentiality agreement and a release of liability. The MSPA offers certification for shoppers which assures quality observation and writing skills.
What is Evaluated and Reported?
Healthcare mystery shopping is in place to measure and improve the patient experience thereby increasing patient satisfaction. Mystery shopping examines the patients’ perception of the providers’ interpersonal skills, the organizations policies and procedures and the overall atmosphere of the facility. Medical Mystery Shopping is not about judging clinical skills. The information gathered should be used strictly for training, encouraging and rewarding providers and staff. An experienced healthcare mystery shopping company provides detailed evaluations and a comprehensive narrative of the shopper experience. They may also provide a report based on the combined findings of multiple locations. Medical Mystery Shopping companies will not displace an actual patient in an emergent situation nor will they endanger the shoppers with invasion tests or procedures. They are also sensitive to the value of the providers’ time and will perform evaluations in a manner that will be cost effective for the provider and or organization. An organization or practitioner may use one or a combination of the different types of mystery shops available, these include:
The Complete Patient Experience: This is the most comprehensive evaluation. It begins with the phone call to schedule an appointment, front office staff, clinical staff and doctors’ interpersonal skills, wait times, compliance with policy and procedure and facility ambience, exterior and interior. The mystery patient presents with a non-emergent complaint or a new patient consultation. An experienced Healthcare Mystery Shopping Company will create believable scenarios, will never involve insurance and understands the process of referrals for specialty practices.
The Walk-In Visit: Mystery shoppers visit the facility and interact with the front office staff or registration. The mystery shopper does not see clinical staff. They are prepared with a believable scenario strictly protecting their identity. Their observations will include the reception staff response time, interpersonal skills, procedure and policy knowledge, first available appointments and facility ambience, exterior and interior.