In this fast-paced world your patients have a lot of choice in who they chose for their health care. It’s not only about how good you are at your profession. In order to retain patients in this consumer-driven environment, medical professionals must pay careful attention to providing exceptional service. Fortunately, creating a patient-driven experience doesn’t have to be difficult. Increased efforts in a few key areas can be all the difference between seeing patients once and seeing them for a lifetime.
Before a Visit
Welcoming, Informative Website
The first place that many patients are going to interact with your medical facility is in the virtual world. Most people find practitioners through internet searches or their friends and family recommendations.
This means having a welcoming, easy-to-navigate website that includes key information about the healthcare providers at the facility. The hours of operation, location map and what services are offered is essential. Photos of providers help put a face on the practice. Providing online booking capabilities so patients can book in when they think of it (often after dinner when the practice is closed) makes everyone’s life easier. Access to blank intake forms that a patient can either send in advance or bring with them when they arrive (or even integrate with your practice management software) makes the intake process easier and less time-consuming. All of these details send the message that your practice is welcoming and professional.
Despite being in the age of the internet, many people will call to make appointments or ask questions. Make sure that their first experience is a pleasant one by ensuring that the person answering the phones is friendly, patient, and informative. Try to avoid long automatic messages and connect patients with a real live person whenever possible.
During a Visit
Comfortable Waiting Rooms
First impressions last a long time. Make sure that the waiting room that greets a patient is a comfortable, welcoming one. The most obvious details are to make sure that the room is clean and that furniture isn’t overly worn. Adding amenities like a play area for children, televisions, tissues, hand sanitiser, or a water cooler go a long way toward making a wait more enjoyable.
Setting the Tone
If things don’t go as planned, be sure that the staff members interacting with patients are well-trained with clear instructions for how to speak in a way that is compassionate and direct. The Language of Caring has some excellent guidelines for how to interact proactively and productively with patients in the case of longer than expected wait times or misunderstandings.
Patients are frustrated when they feel rushed or like they aren’t being heard. I know the demanding schedules of medical professionals often make lengthy meetings impossible to accommodate. However, make sure that the time you do have is spent making a connection. Ask if patients have questions and make sure they leave with answers. Take the time to introduce yourself and greet or say goodbye to them by name. Patients are much more likely to return if they feel they were noticed as individuals and not treated like a number.
Make it easy to claim rebates
When patients are paying make it easy for them to claim their applicable rebates instantly. Using HICAPS so they don’t have to worry about without having to put a claim into medicare or their private health fund makes for a much better experience.
After a Visit
Many patients prefer text messages or email reminders to phone calls, so be sure to give options for getting in touch with follow-up appointments and annual reminders. Asking patients how they prefer to get this information is the best way to ensure you’re sending out messages that will be well received and result in a patient returning.
Offer patients an easy way to give feedback on their experiences. A quick online survey can give you incredible insight into the elements of a visit that may be invisible to you but weigh heavily on patients’ minds. Even just the act of giving feedback can help a patient feel heard and make your facility one that’s welcoming.
If you’re ready to make sure that the patients you see today will be ones you see for years to come, contact us to talk about website design and marketing plans.