There’s no shortage of healthcare options for patients in today’s medical landscape. Beyond competing with other physicians for new patients, medical practices these days are also competing with retail clinics and mobile apps. This means that creating positive patient experiences is more important than ever in order to improve patient retention.
Working to improve patient experience doesn’t just benefit your patients but also your medical staff and you. When your patients are satisfied with their visit, they’ll likely feel less stressed or anxious the next time they have an appointment with your office. You and your staff will also feel more fulfilled with your work when patients are pleased, decreasing your risk for burnout.
In fact, positive experiences with doctors can increase the efficacy of treatments for patients, according to a Stanford University study.
Considering all that, plus the fact that improving the patient experience will help your practice thrive and grow, it seems like a no-brainer. Let’s look at the ultimate list of ideas to make sure your patients have the best possible experience with your healthcare practice, both online and in-person.
For most of the patients that will book an appointment with your practice, the first impression they have is going to be largely informed by your online presence. This doesn’t just mean your website (though that’s crucial, too!) but also your local directory profiles, social media presence, Google Business Profile, and anywhere else your office appears on the web.
Managing your online presence is essential in deliberately designing your practice’s brand. Through key pages on your site, such as the Service, About Us, and Contact pages, your prospective patients will be able to get a sense of whether your practice will be a good fit both practically and experientially.
Your online presence should include accurate contact information and hours of operation on every directory and page it appears. Instead of putting the bare minimum of information on directories and citations, keep your profiles up to date and include as much info as possible, including photos.
Wherever your practice shows up, make sure there is a working link back to your website. This way, people that are interested in your services can easily make their way to your online hub for more information!
People shouldn’t feel like they are reinventing the wheel when they visit your site. Instead, menu items should be simple and clear, while the navigation should be intuitive. The less frustrating the experience is for prospective patients, and the more streamlined it is, the more likely you are to gain a new patient for your practice.
Additionally, it’s important to realize just how common it is for people to search for services, including healthcare services, on their mobile phones. Having a website that is clunky on devices other than browsers is a recipe for losing potential clients, so you’ll want to make sure your site is mobile-friendly and responsive.
Is it time to bring in more patients to your practice? This recent post offers twenty tips to grow your healthcare practice digitally.
One way you can make your patients’ lives easier is by offering the ability to schedule appointments online.
Many people prefer to book their healthcare appointments through a browser, email, or text rather than over the phone or in person. By reducing the barriers to making an appointment and ensuring that the process is as quick and easy as possible, you’re helping to significantly improve the patient experience.
When your practice sends appointment confirmations and reminders, it helps to create a positive and professional image for your brand while also being practically useful for your patients.
Your patients have busy lives, and they will appreciate that they can count on you sending a confirmation after the booking and a reminder three days before their appointment asking for confirmation.
There’s no getting around the fact that there’s a lot of paperwork when a new patient visits your site. Many patients don’t have the time to arrive at your office fifteen minutes early to fill out their intake forms and other paperwork.
One very easy way to improve the patient experience is to offer the option to fill out intake forms before they even arrive at your office by making them available online.
If you’re looking to boost patient satisfaction, creating genuinely useful content is a great route to take.
Not only can it help increase your visibility online and increase organic traffic when done in conjunction with an SEO strategy, but it also helps your patients answer questions they have about your services, their health, and more.
Of course, the patient experience isn’t something you should stop thinking about once someone has booked an appointment. Beyond the digital realm, you’ll also want to be very considerate of how comfortable the experience is for your patients in your office.
First impressions are key, and even the most impressive online presence and brand image can be overridden by a negative experience in the waiting room of your office. You’ll want to go out of your way to make your waiting room a calming, comfortable, welcoming, and clean place.
A friendly and welcoming staff is one of the positive elements of a healthcare practice that creates loyal, repeat patients.
The people that work in the reception and welcome area are responsible for setting the tone for the whole visit. Visiting a healthcare practice can be a stressful and nerve-wracking experience for many people, and providing an atmosphere of support and warmth can go a long way toward a positive patient experience.
No matter how nice your waiting room is, your patients want to spend as little time as possible there. Surveys have found that after having a good listener as a doctor, patients most want short wait times from their healthcare providers.
Remember to be considerate of wait times when creating your appointment schedule to ensure that patients aren’t waiting for an excessive amount of time. If you are running behind, the best thing you can do is be straightforward and communicative with your patients.
In addition to your medical receptionists and staff being welcoming and friendly, it’s also important that doctors are present, caring, and warm in person. Patients want to know that the person they are entrusting with their health is actually invested in their well-being and not just seeing them as another nameless patient. They need to feel comfortable in order to be honest and open about their healthcare needs and for you to provide the best possible care.
One survey found that the most important part of the patient experience is a doctor being a good listener. No one wants to drive to the doctor’s office, sit in a waiting room, and fill out forms to be seen by a medical professional who hardly even looks them in the eyes. This is a recipe for a negative patient experience.
Show your patients that you are interested in their feedback by following up with a survey after their appointment. You can set up automated surveys that are sent out over email or text to make this as easy as possible for your patients.
You’ll want to send out these surveys when the appointment is still fresh in your patient’s mind. Receiving feedback– even when it’s less than glowing– can be an invaluable tool in understanding what your patients need and want out of their healthcare provider so you can continue improving patient experience in an ongoing way.
It can be tempting to try and squeeze as many appointments in as possible, particularly if you want to hedge against the inevitable and costly no-shows. Rather than overbooking appointments to avoid losing money when someone doesn’t show up, consider having a clearly stated no-show and cancellation policy to reduce the number of times this occurs.
By going this route, you’ll help to keep wait time down for the patients that do show up. People will also be less likely to miss their appointments if they are aware of the cancellation or no-show policy.
Walk-in appointments are obviously not possible for many types of medical services and care, but surveys find that patients value walking in and being seen within an hour.
In fact, an Advisory Board survey from 2019 about consumer preferences in a primary care physician found that this was the number one attribute patients look for when choosing a primary care doctor.
In addition to training your staff to be welcoming and friendly, also stress the importance of answering phone calls right away and returning phone calls promptly.
If your office cannot prioritize communicating with potential and existing patients, you’ll likely find that they start considering going elsewhere for their healthcare needs.
Going into a medical or dental office isn’t most people’s idea of a good time, and it can be a source of a great deal of stress and anxiety. To help improve the patient experience, consider creating a strategy designed to reduce patient anxiety.
This can include sending out material about a procedure or service a patient is receiving, information about your practice, healthcare tips, and any other useful resources that could allow them to feel less stressed about the experience.
Collecting feedback is important, but so is responding to it. This is the case whether your patients have positive or negative things to say about their experience. When prospective patients see that you respond to feedback, it helps to build trust. At the same time, it shows the people that left the feedback that their opinion is valuable to you.
When dealing with negative feedback, you’ll want to acknowledge the patient’s concerns politely and encourage them to directly contact you so the poor experience can be addressed and remedied.
It’s vital that you maintain HIPAA compliance when responding to reviews online or other feedback. This means, among other things, that you must refrain from mentioning any Protected Health Information or even confirm that the individual is a patient of yours.
The cost of healthcare is a major topic of conversation in the US, and the last thing you want to do is make payment more difficult than it needs to be. Your patients will greatly appreciate it if you make both the pricing of services and the available payment options transparent and clear.
If it is possible to do so, you might consider listing the pricing for each service you offer right on your website. If not, you’ll want to be very open about this with your patients when they arrive for their appointment. Asking about costs can be stressful or embarrassing for patients– by giving them this information, you are likely answering a key question and taking some weight off their shoulders.
On top of the cost of services, you’ll also want to make it clear where they can pay, how they can view any outstanding billing information, and what insurance your practice takes.
Consider sending out a regular newsletter to the patients on your email list to offer useful tips, health information, or promotional specials that can help them save money.
This is a great way to stay in touch with your patients and leads and keep your brand at the top of their minds for the next time they’re in need of the type of medical services you offer.
Wondering how to generate more leads for your doctor’s office? Check out our guide with sixteen effective strategies.
If you’re wondering what you can do to improve patient experience but are drawing a blank, consider looking at your competitors in your practice area.
This can help you gain ideas both in what the competition is offering that you aren’t but also where they might be missing some key elements of a positive experience that you can offer.
These days, the patient experience begins online. This means that having a professional and intuitive website, using effective SEO strategies, and offering high-quality content to your patients is essential for your practice to help as many people as possible.
Are you looking for the right team to partner with in your quest to improve patient experience and grow your practice? If so, you’ve come to the right place!
Blue Pig Media is a one-stop-shop digital marketing agency that specializes in helping improve visibility, traffic, lead generation, and more for healthcare and medical companies. To get started, contact us today!