How to Improve Your Practice’s Patient Experience
The responsibilities and work associated with running a medical practice can be overwhelming. Unfortunately, this overwhelm can result in losing sight of what matters: the patient.
The patient experience encompasses every touchpoint a patient experiences with your practice, from booking an appointment to the follow-up care. The better the patient experience, the more successful the practice will become.
Here are some practical tips for improving the patient experience at your practice to improve retention, value, and profitability:
Updating legacy systems and replacing them with modern solutions can be time-consuming and costly. These factors often act as barriers to getting things done. However, the longer the shift is delayed, the bigger the negative impact on employees, productivity and, ultimately, the patient.
Take some time to audit the existing systems and determine what upgrades are required. Discuss the issues with the staff who uses the systems the most and ask for candid feedback. Ideally, you’ll source a streamlined system that offers automation and centralization to simplify processes. Gone are the days of having separate booking and billing programs; it’s time to upgrade.
Many private practice operators are hesitant to outsource due to the perceived costs. However, outsourcing administrative tasks to a virtual medical assistant could pay for itself in improved productivity and reduced staffing needs; not to mention the opportunity cost of delegating more secondary duties to focus on revenue-generating tasks.
Outsourcing administrative tasks like insurance processing and billing will help patients get in and out of their appointments faster, highlighting the value of their time. It’s also beneficial to outsource additional phone operators during peak times to simplify appointment scheduling to minimize the time spent on hold.
Working with a skilled virtual assistant can also help handle overflow work during busy periods to ensure referrals, transcriptions, and appointment confirmations are all happening in a timely manner. As such, the staff will feel less stressed, leading to better patient interactions and fewer errors.
Offering online services is no longer a luxury; it’s an expectation. Telehealth usage spiked 154% during the early days of the pandemic compared to the same period the previous year. While the numbers have come down somewhat since the initial spike, they’re still significantly higher than pre-pandemic.
Online services improve accessibility for patients with restrictions, such as mobility limits or demanding work schedules. Furthermore, this offering allows practitioners to see more patients in a shorter period without sacrificing service.
In addition to online visits, it’s worth implementing an online appointment booking system. This smart system will empower patients to schedule their appointments, while also offering automated follow-ups and reminders. Patients get the benefit of convenience while the practice cuts costs and boosts productivity.
Healthy communication may seem like second nature, but it’s a lost art form. Investing in training to ensure everyone who comes into contact with a patient communicates with attention and empathy is invaluable.
As a practitioner, take the time to connect with a patient before diving into their appointment. Refrain from commenting or questioning until they’re done sharing. Thank them for their patience with any delays or wait periods they’ve experienced, and refrain from checking the clock or feeling rushed. In other words, put yourself in their shoes and treat them like human beings; a little compassion goes a long way.
Give your patients an opportunity to make suggestions about your practice and feel heard. Ask patients to share their experience with a simple survey, asking what they appreciated, and where improvements are needed. Consider offering a small incentive for their time.
In summary, the key to improving the patient experience is valuing their time and practicing compassion. Use systems and outsourcing to minimize wait times, offer online solutions to improve accessibility, and treat patients like humans – because they are.