Patient experience and satisfaction can make or break your healthcare organization. Transparency in care costs and provider ratings has empowered patients more than ever. This has made it simple for patients to determine which provider is best for them – without ever speaking directly to a provider. This has made the need to improve patient experience one of the biggest initiatives in healthcare today.
One major challenge with improving patient experience and satisfaction is the lack of resources. Whether it’s access to additional finances or staff bandwidth issues, resources for these types of initiatives can be limited. This makes it difficult for healthcare providers to capitalize on patient experience trends and improve patient experience. So, what can your healthcare organization do to improve patient experience at little to no cost?
1. Use the Patient’s Name
This might be the simplest thing you can have your staff do to improve patient experience. Using the patient’s first name shows that you’re listening to them and further personalizes their experience with your healthcare organization. It shows that you view the patient as an individual, not just as a generic patient.
2. Train Your Front Desk Staff
First impressions count. And the first point of contact your new and existing patients have with your office is typically over the phone with your front desk staff. From scheduling appointments to handling customer service calls, your front desk staff should be personable, well trained, responsive, and go above and beyond for patients.
Involve your front desk staff in initiatives that improve patient experience and satisfaction. And, make sure they’re properly trained for communication both over the phone and in-person.
3. Keep Your Office Clean
Dusty cabinets, old magazines, and stuffing coming out of the cushions are a few small issues that can turn patients off. Appoint a staff member to make sure that the waiting area is comfortable and clean. Be sure to check that the soap, towels, and toilet paper are always stocked in the restrooms. Hire a cleaning crew to come in during the week to give your waiting area and restroom the detailed clean that it needs. Doing these simple things won’t go unnoticed by patients.
4. Follow-Up After a Visit
Providing personal touches for your patients is one of the best ways to improve patient experience. Calling patients after their appointments to simply ask how they’re doing or whether their medication is working shows that you care about their individual well-being. Follow-up to see if the patient’s health is progressing as planned or if they need to come in for another visit. This is an excellent strategy to drive patient loyalty, as it provides the level of care that patients want.
5. Listen to the Patient Without Interrupting
You can learn a lot by just listening to someone. Be intentional about listening to your patients’ concerns and issues before responding.
If you need to enter data during the visit, for instance, say, “I am entering your information, but I’m listening,” to indicate they should keep talking. Say, “I have to enter this information. I’ll be done in just a minute,” to indicate that you need silence.
6. Set Expectations
No one likes unexpected delays in care or costs. From delays, wait times, components of a visit, and costs of services, managing expectations can alleviate unnecessary stress and concern for patients.
One simple thing you can do is let patients know their expected wait times and update them as necessary when they’re in the office. If something goes wrong in the clinic that increases the wait time, let the patients waiting know.
7. Stick to the Schedule
It’s no secret that patients hate waiting. 30% of patients said they have left a medical appointment because the wait time was getting too long. If you haven’t optimized patient wait times, that’s the first place to start. If you’ve already optimized patient wait times, there are things you can do to decreased perceived wait times.
Patients also hate feeling like they’re waiting longer than expected. To decrease perceived wait time, give your patients valuable things to do as they wait or get them moving through check-in flows and other steps of their visit. Also, if wait times are longer than expected, let patients know the current wait times and why the wait time has increased.
8. Teach Staff to Handle Patient and Family Member Concerns
Even if handling the concern means “I’m finding you someone right now who can address this”, it’s far better than “I can’t help you, I’m the wrong person.” Be relentless in answering every question your patients have. If the question can’t be answered right away, let the patient know when they can expect you to contact them with the answer. If there are any delays in getting the patient their answer, let them know and assure them that you are working diligently to get the answer to their question.
There are many reasons why patient experience matters, and there are a lot of things you can do to improve patient experience and satisfaction. These eight simple ways to improve patient experience will help boost patient loyalty and improve the profitability of your healthcare organization.