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Press Start: Lead an Empowered Life as a Clinical Laboratorian

A Simple Customer Service Aid

Published June 24, 2012 8:50 AM by Glen McDaniel


There are so many customer service buzzwords that I thought I had pretty much heard them all. One method that I had not heard of until a week or so is a device advocated by the Studer Group.

Called the Five Fundamentals of Service, the method uses the mnemonic AIDET (pronounced Aid it). AIDET stands for Acknowledge, Introduction, Duration, Explanation and Thank you.

While AIDET is used mostly when interacting with patients, it can be modified for use when caregivers interact with each other.

Here is how AIDET might work for  an outpatient in the lab waiting room:

Acknowledge: Acknowledge the patient by name, make eye contact and ask how you may help, or give introductory instructions such as "please sign in" or "I will be with you shortly." If you see a patient who appears lost, volunteer to steer her to the correct destination.  One hospital uses the  "ten foot rule," which means you acknowledge  anyone (patient, employee, visitor) who comes within ten feet of you in the hallway.

Introduce. Introduce yourself by role and name. This immediately changes the patient's experience from an anonymous encounter twith "lab" to a personalized relationship.

Duration. Explain how long the procedure will take or how long the wait will be, One of the biggest complaints patients have is that no one tells them how long they will wait,  or whwy they had to wait while another patient seemed to have been served immediately. If unexpected delays come up, inform the patient.  Giving this information shows respect for the patient's time and keeping them updated as situation changes shows concern,

Explanation. Let the patient know what you will be doing and what to expect. Allow time for questions and address them if necessary. At one job, the main complaint I received from inpatients and families was that the phlebotomists were rough, wrestled the patients arm into position without explaining what they were doing. Of course, by not introducing themselves, phlebotomists sometimes took the blame for nurses or other professionals.

Thank you. Every interaction should end by thanking the patient and asking if there  is anything else you can do to provide them with excellent care. Thank any family members present for being there to support the patient. A smile also never hurts.

Surely these are too simple to make a substantial difference! Well, try it. This simple formula contains powerful relationship triggers condensed into an easy to remember format. It is very easy to learn and if you put into place with your phlebotomists, say in an outpatient clinic, you should be able to measure the effect pretty quickly.

I would like to hear from readers who use this -or a similar- customers service aid.






I am with everyone else. I think this is a great idea and we need to adopt and incorporate this in the way we communicate with  patients. As Kathy says it would be very easy to use with physicians on the phone and present  a more professional air to all our conversations.

Nedrick Brown June 26, 2012 12:08 PM

Thank you, Kim and Kathy for sharing your experiences and expertise with us. Also fro indicating that AIDET is a very good tool for use among departments as well. Thanks for your concrete examples of interactions with physicians, Kathy. I can see how that would not just be great customer service, but has an educational/lab PR component as well

This tool could even be used when giving shift reports to the oncoming staff. Used that way, AIDET might sound stilted (and would require some tweaking eg no need to state your role). However, it is very important to Acknowledge oncoming staff, give an update of pending procedures/equipment or personnel issues  (Duration/Explanation) and end by ensuring there are no additional questions, and a wish for a trouble free shift (Thank you).

Glen McDaniel June 24, 2012 12:37 PM

At my previous position near Boston, Studer principles were foundational to the hospital's culture.  I had never before worked in such a customer-service focused organization, and it was truly impressive.  AIDET, an excellent patient tool, is also very appropriate for lab staff to use in phone interactions with doctors and nurses. Some examples would be:

Acknowledge=use the caller's name throughout the call.

Introduce=give your name and title, and how your role puts you in a position to be of assistance.

Duration=how long until the test result is available, how soon they can expect a call back after followup to the issue at hand, etc.

Explanation=brief comments on the situation to improve understanding.

Thank you, including asking if there is anything else you can do for them, or reminding them of your name and inviting them to ask for you by name if they think of any further questions later.

I loved using these simple techniques on the phone, because even though we are generally in a rush in the lab, it reminded me to give the caller my full attention, and to not sound like I was in a hurry to end the call.  Politeness and genuine caring goes a long way in diffusing the caller's frustration about some perceived "screw up" on the lab's part.

Kathy Hardisty Weldzius, , Laboratory Supervisor American Health Network June 24, 2012 11:36 AM
Carmel IN

We have all of our laboratory staff use AIDET with every interaction; this includes not only patients but other departments. It has been a very simple tool to implement but the key to it's success is how easy it is for staff to embrace it! We have seen measurable outcomes on our Patient Satisfaction scores since we have begun using AIDET! I agree that there are many "buzz" words and techniques available but AIDET is the one that best translates to the work of laboratory staff which is why I believe it was so readily embraced!

Kim Von Ahsen, Clinical Laboratory - Manager, Client Services, Iowa Health - Des Moines June 24, 2012 11:15 AM
Des Moines IA

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