How to Create a Positive Patient Experience
While your online reputation is important, review sites are, of course, far from the only setting in which patients talk about you. In fact, you’re likely to come up in talks on the phone, meetups for coffee, and the sidelines of kids’ birthday parties, too!
While a Yelp or Google review will remain up for posterity, the person-to-person influence of word-of-mouth can still make a big impact on whether you acquire a new patient or not!
Why are we stating the obvious? Because it’s worth emphasizing that, no matter who your patient is, an excellent experience can make all the difference. Whether they’re young, old, tech savvy, or still don’t know what a “smartphone” is, they likely know someone you can help and who would benefit from hearing a good opinion of you.
But here’s something that isn’t always quite so clear:
It’s not just up to the practitioner to create a memorable experience for a patient. It’s also up to the assistants, the front desk, and even the website! Everything the patient encounters before, during, and after the actual appointment can play into their overall opinion of you.
Here are a few tips for generating a positive experience – and hopefully positive buzz – with your patients.
Let’s Start With Your Online Presence
When someone looks your practice up online, it’s usually for either or both of two good reasons:
- They want to learn about how you can help them.
- They want to contact you!
The fewer barriers you place between patients and these goals, the happier they will be.
Your website should contain visible, easy, and consistent access to your contact information. If they don’t know how to get a hold of you within 5 seconds of visiting your website, something’s wrong.
It should also be easily navigable, uncluttered, and with clear directions to the concerns your patients have the most. This doesn’t always include just conditions, but potentially patient forms and insurance information, as well.
Pages shouldn’t “dead end” either. Instead, they should provide clear calls-to-action that encourage patients to reach out.
You should also make sure your online listings outside your website are fully up-to-date with your phone number, address, and hours. It can be quite frustrating for a patient to find a listing and get directions to a location, only to show up somewhere you moved from a month ago!
Make Scheduling Quick and Easy
Phone duties can understandably be a challenge based on line traffic, but patients will always be pleased if their call is answered in less than three rings. Even if a staff member does not work the front desk, having a policy of picking up by the third ring can make a difference.
A good scheduling call will be attentive to the needs of the patient and not try to force a time they might not favor. You don’t need to know all the answers to their questions at the time, but you should try to follow up with what you can in good time.
Provide a Warm Office Environment
Once checked in, waiting for an exam can be an awkward time for a patient. But we also understand it can be awkward for you, too.
You might be feeling rushed at this point in the day. You might have just had to deal with some drama. That’s all perfectly understandable, but don’t walk into your next appointment with that stuff hanging on you.
Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the rush of things, but trust us: no matter how much you try to hide it, your patients will notice. If your patient must wait an extra minute or two for you to clear your head and reorganize yourself, that’s better than you coming in distracted and frustrated. That first impression matters!
(If the patient has been left waiting for a while before your entrance, however, please be sure to acknowledge it and apologize.)
Greet your patient by name. If you know their preferred name (e.g.: “Tim” instead of “Timothy”), use it. It’s an excellent way to begin establishing a friendly atmosphere.
Show Engagement Throughout the Appointment
Not just your words, but your physical approach can also help establish a better connection.
Be at eye level with the patient, if possible. And watch your body language! Fidgeting, glancing about, and folding your arms can all be taken as signs of being put off and disengaged.
Above all, however, be attentive to the patient. Keep your focus on them. If you must turn to a chart or a computer for something, tell them why you’re doing so.
Make sure there is uninterrupted time for questions, and that patients understand they should not feel worried or ashamed to ask anything they need to. When a question is asked, acknowledge that you’re glad they did so. This may seem like a small favor, but it can mean a lot to someone seeking reassurance.
Another small gesture that can go a long way is taking some time to explain diagnostics. Instead of just saying a test “looked good,” take a moment to explain what you were looking for and what was found. This not only helps the patient understand what is going on, adding to their sense of assurance, but they will appreciate the fact that you want to keep them in the loop with their own care.
Build Your Reputation with Happy Patients
It’s usually pretty clear to tell when a patient is thrilled with your service, and you should be proud when you see that! This is a great opportunity to ask these patients to leave a review for you on Google or another rating site.
Yes, we know it can be quite awkward to do this, but there are some good ways to approach it.
The front desk can be an asset in this. Mark in the patient’s file that they are a good review candidate, and they can address it during check-out. Mention to your patient how others out there want to know what places are like, and you want to provide those people the same experience you just gave them.
All in all, you have the most insight into providing the best experiences for your patients. But we certainly hope these tips will help you excel in providing an awesome patient experience now and in the future.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to give our office a call at (517) 484-1930.