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Customer satisfaction

Rade B. Vukmir (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Northwest, Seneca, Pennsylvania, USA)

International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance

ISSN: 0952-6862

Article publication date: 1 January 2006




This paper seeks to present an analysis of the literature examining objective information concerning the subject of customer service, as it applies to the current medical practice. Hopefully, this information will be synthesized to generate a cogent approach to correlate customer service with quality.


Articles were obtained by an English language search of MEDLINE from January 1976 to July 2005. This computerized search was supplemented with literature from the author's personal collection of peer‐reviewed articles on customer service in a medical setting. This information was presented in a qualitative fashion.


There is a significant lack of objective data correlating customer service objectives, patient satisfaction and quality of care. Patients present predominantly for the convenience of emergency department care. Specifics of satisfaction are directed to the timing, and amount of “caring”. Demographic correlates including symptom presentation, practice style, location and physician issues directly impact on satisfaction. It is most helpful to develop a productive plan for the “difficult patient”, emphasizing communication and empathy. Profiling of the customer satisfaction experience is best accomplished by examining the specifics of satisfaction, nature of the ED patient, demographic profile, symptom presentation and physician interventions emphasizing communication – especially with the difficult patient.


The current emergency medicine customer service dilemmas are a complex interaction of both patient and physician factors specifically targeting both efficiency and patient satisfaction. Awareness of these issues particular to the emergency patient can help to maximize efficiency, minimize subsequent medicolegal risk and improve patient care if a tailored management plan is formulated.



Vukmir, R.B. (2006), "Customer satisfaction", International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, Vol. 19 No. 1, pp. 8-31.



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Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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