If your practice’s marketing, sales or services departments seem to be lacking, try taking a look at your patient experience.
Your patient experience is the overall experience they have when they work with your practice. It starts well before they enter your office, and continues long after. And if something isn’t working with your marketing, sales or service efforts, there very well may be a flaw in how your patients experience your practice.
Before the appointment: Reaching out and establishing a connection
The patient experience can offer valuable insights into your marketing, sales and services plans.
It all begins with outreach. If a potential new patient wanted to look for your service, how would they do that? For example, if they type your specialty into a search engine, would your practice be one of the first to pop up? If not, that might mean you need to work on your search engine optimization.
Even if they find your site quickly, your website needs to clearly guide them to the next step. View your website through a potential patient’s eyes. If they’ve never seen your site before, would they know how to contact you? Is it clear that you are accepting new patients, and can help them with what they need? Make sure your website can quickly answer those questions so you don’t turn people away.
Booking and confirming appointments should also be simple. A complicated, hard to find or confusing appointment process can deter potential new patients. Your onboarding system needs to be effective for your patients and your employees. So many practices are turning to digital or automated options - like appointment reminder texts and online new patient paperwork - because they tend to e a simple solution for the patients and the practice.
After the appointment: Feedback and follow-ups
After an appointment, it’s important to act quickly in requesting feedback. Your patients are busy; if you wait too long or make the feedback process complicated, you’ll probably miss out on valuable information.
A simple email or text after an appointment can go a long way. Give your patients a chance to offer feedback, and give them clear instructions for what to do next if they have questions or need a follow-up appointment.
Sharing information and keeping in touch is also an important part of the patient experience. Simple things like sending out birthday cards, sharing helpful advice in a newsletter or posting about your team on social media can all help your patients feel more connected to your practice and providers. That connection is key, because it establishes an open line of communication for feedback, and sets you apart from competitors.
The patient experience benefits whole practice
Without the patient perspective, you could end up spinning your wheels when you try to implement marketing, sales or service plans. You have to understand what’s working for your patients to create success in other areas of your practice. Here are some signs that you might need to rethink your patient experience:
Struggling to find new patients: If you’re bringing in fewer new patients than you’d like, take a look at your website, online presence and reviews. You might need a stronger search engine presence, a more clear website with easy to find contact information, or more reviews.
Too few reviews: According to this survey from Software Advice, 90 percent of respondents use online reviews to evaluate physicians. Additionally, 71 percent of respondents use online reviews as their very first step in finding a new physician. Reviews matter. If you don’t have enough reviews, your potential new patients might hesitate before visiting you. Patients typically aren’t going to review your practice or physicians on their own, so make it a point to ask after every appointment. A simple email or text can go a long way in getting more reviews from your patients.
Poor patient experience feedback: Listen to the complaints from your patients and staff. If you notice concerns about long hold times, difficulty scheduling appointments, or patients missing appointments, it might be time to beef up your automation. Reminder texts and calls can be delivered automatically, saving your team valuable time. And an easy-to-navigate FAQ page on your site can help cut down on time spent answering common questions.
The bottom line
Your patients are a valuable source of information for improving your practice. The best strategy you can create is one that fosters an open line of communication, an opportunity for feedback, and a goal to keep the patient experience at the forefront of your decisions.