One unhappy patient leaving a practice can cause a loss of USD 200,000 over a practice’s lifetime. Improving patient experience is unimaginably important for a clinic’s success. One happy patient informs four other potential patients; the news of a poor patient experience spreads to ten. Therefore, improving patient experience is vital for a practice.
On the other hand, good patient experience leads to good word of mouth which in turn increases patient volume. It also reduces patient visit duration and saves clinic staff time. Physician and staff find it rewarding to have satisfied patients who are a lot easier to care for.
Moreover, an Altarum institute survey found that 30% of patients were likely to switch doctors because of poor service. With a lot of advancements being made in the healthcare industry, patients expect nothing short of being treated like royalty.
In 2021, patient experience will be one of the most important criteria that will determine whether your practice would sink or swim. To help your practice perform better, here are some ways you can increase patient satisfaction.
What is Patient Experience?
But before moving ahead, let’s quickly understand what patient experience means. It’s a somewhat new concept for the healthcare industry.
Earlier, good cure rates were all that mattered. Today, patients are consumers. Beyond competence and cure, they also expect comfort, care, and cordial behavior.
Patient satisfaction in healthcare depends on intangibles. Were they greeted warmly? How long did they have to wait to see the doctor? Did a staff member walk them to their provider instead of pointing the way? Does the clinic look pleasant and clean?
Clinics and hospitals need to implement creative ways to increase patient satisfaction. Good patient experience does not happen by accident; policies and training are required. Here are some methods of improving patient experience in your clinic.
1. Waiting Should be Minimal
It’s one of the bugbears of health care. Sick patients have to wait for a long time to see their doctor. Make it easy for them — offer quick appointment scheduling on your website and mobile.
When patients come to the clinic, ensure they don’t have to wait long. The consultation starting on time delights most patients. The waiting area should have comfortable seating. Moreover, it should be clean and hygienic.
Another way of reducing patient wait time is to offer telehealth services. Encourage your patients to visit you via telehealth instead of in-person visits. The freedom to visit their doctor from anywhere is surely going to enrich their experience.
However, you should refrain from using video calling apps like Zoom or Skype for telehealth purposes as they aren’t made for this. Instead use HIPAA compliant telehealth apps that have been specially designed for video consultations.
2. Good Welcoming Protocol
Calls should be answered quickly. Your staff should sound welcoming and enthusiastic on the phone. No patient should be put on hold for more than a minute. A cheerful greeting and a desire to help makes your patients happy.
Your staff should never make a caller or a visitor feel they’re an interruption. It should be easy for patients to self-schedule appointments on the website. Your website should provide appropriate info on office timings, doctor’s availability, and doctor’s profile.
3. Less Paperwork, More Human Interaction
Paperwork and forms are the bane of modern life.
Your systems should be designed to reduce the tedium for your patients. Your computer system should only need the patient’s information once; it should be auto-filled everywhere it is required.
Patients are anxious; clear communication about what to expect is very comforting.
Staff should all be trained to appreciate the situation the patient and family are in, and behave appropriately. Respectful, empathetic, and friendly behavior go a long way in improving the patient experience.
See the patient and family as people with needs, beliefs, and preferences.
Improving Patient Experience
4. Consider Your Patients at Every Step
See patients as participants in their own healthcare. Apart from their health needs, consider their values and preferences, and build your clinic’s care around the patient. Try to provide them as much convenience as you can.
Offer video consultation to your patients to make healthcare convenient for them. Encourage them to use tele-monitoring devices so that they can monitor their own health and actively participate in their own care.
Integrate EHR into your practice to ensure that your patients can access their health records whenever they want. Use ePrescription so that patients can promptly get the medication they need. Try to make the process as convenient for them as you can.
Ask patients to rate their experience. If they sound happy, request a review.
If they sound dissatisfied, ask them for suggestions. “What can we do to make things better for you?”
5. Manage Staff Turnover & Training
Keeping employees happy and working contentedly is essential for improving the patient experience at your clinic. New and existing staff should be trained in managing patients and relationships.
Patients are unhappy when their care providers change, even if the clinical outcome remains the same.
The replacement of a physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner can disrupt established trust and relationships. The patient’s care experience is poorer. Make sure the new person who takes over is well acquainted with the patient’s history to prevent discomfort to the patient.
Good clinical care and outcomes are still important, but patient satisfaction contributes much to a practice’s success. A welcoming receptionist, pleasant waiting areas, friendly and caring conversations during their stay — they also matter as much as clinical competence and excellent outcomes when it comes to improving patient experience.
Patients will willingly pay higher fees at places which win their trust and give a good experience. Effort on improving patient satisfaction pays off!