Mystery shopping audits are an excellent way for home health care providers to gain insight into the level of customer service that prospective patients and their families experience during appointments. In fact, many professional medical organizations are actually encouraging the use of mystery shoppers.In 2008, a report from a professional medical association endorsed mystery shopping as a way to improve patient care. The report said “physicians have an ethical responsibility to engage in activities that contribute to continual improvements in patient care. One method for promoting such quality improvement is through the use of secret shopper ‘patients’ who have been appropriately trained to provide feedback about physician performance in the clinical setting.”Because of the deep level of trust that patients and their families wish to establish, the home healthcare industry can benefit greatly from mystery shopping audits. During home healthcare visits, a licensed nurse will visit the patient’s home and assist them with their daily needs — bathing, meals, chores and ensuring patients are taking their prescribed medications. The patient and their family must be able to trust the home healthcare agency, and that trust will begin during the initial meeting.When it comes to evaluating a home health care agency, mystery shopping audits provide invaluable third-party feedback. The mystery shopping auditor poses as a family member of a prospective patient and inquire about services and attending appointments. During these appointments, the mystery shopping auditor will not just evaluate the level customer service that the agency provides; rather, it will evaluate every client facing aspect of the business. Does the staff work to establish a solid level of trust? Are they informative and helpful? Is the base of the operations well-maintained?In addition to the standard client facing aspects of the business, there are plenty of obstacles that can affect patient satisfaction with home health care agencies. This may include scheduling issues, pricing discrepancies, brusque staff, lack of communication and confusing paperwork. All of these aspects of the home healthcare agency should be streamlined in order to help develop a level of trust with prospective patients.The success of a home health care agency is dependent on customer satisfaction; if patients are not happy with the level of service they receive, they will go elsewhere. Mystery shopping audits for health care services can also take into account the agency’s handling and measurement of customer concerns. Additionally, a mystery shopping audit can provide insight that aids home healthcare services in identifying problem areas early, allowing them to respond appropriately to make sure small problems do not become large-scale compliance issues.Because much of the business relies on trust, home healthcare agencies must continually re-evaluate their customer experience management plan through mystery shopping audits. Not only can these be extremely helpful in providing insight from the customer’s perspective, but they can also help to identify potential compliance issues before they arise.