Amidst the number of burdens placed on providers today — namely navigating new healthcare requirements, declining reimbursements, and increasing financial strains on already limited budgets — focusing on improving the patient experience can often fall by the wayside.
According to SolutionReach, today’s patients have similar expectations from healthcare providers as they do from other, non-healthcare companies — patient experience and satisfaction ranking high above others. Most providers know this, but despite their best intentions, many struggle to meet these demands. In fact, a study conducted by the Prophet and GE Healthcare Camden Group found that 81% of patients are unsatisfied with their healthcare experience.
The term “patient consumer” has become more pervasive, and for good reason. Today’s patients are taking a larger interest in their healthcare options by taking their research and health-related queries online. In this digital age, it’s easier than ever before to find answers and providers, which has afforded patients to be extremely selective.
To continue to grow your private practice and stand out amongst the competition in this new era of the patient-consumer, you have to prioritize the patient experience and orchestrate their journey. Where do you start? By taking a critical look at these three key areas:
Does your website provide the information your patients are looking for?
With so much information available — particularly on the internet — patients have the freedom to be choosy when it comes to finding a provider. This means that even a small misstep — and in this particular case, it’s the lack of necessary information on the website — can be enough for potential patients to choose another provider.
When brainstorming what to include on your website, put yourself in the shoes of the patient. What are they looking to see when coming to your website? A good rule of thumb is to make sure your NAP (name, address, and phone number) is at the top of every page on your website. No matter what business you’re in, 64% of visitors expect to easily locate your business’s contact information on your website. If they aren’t able to, nearly half leave your site immediately.
Another thing you should consider is having an FAQ page on your website that includes things like the types of insurances you accept, copay information, cancellation policies, etc. To further expand upon these, ask your administrative assistants to begin taking note of the questions they receive from patients and add those to the page. In addition to addressing some of your prospective patients’ concerns before they’ve had a chance to contact you, FAQ pages also show how committed your practice is to provide a positive and helpful patient experience from the get-go.
How are you leveraging your patient-facing software?
As with any business, there are things out of our control, but implementing software to help streamline internal procedures isn’t one of them. And while electronic health records (EHRs) have been a pain point for most providers, in many cases some of their cumbersome aspects can be remedied with the right integrations. The fact of the matter is, EHRs aren’t going way. The key is to find one that matches your workflow, allows for integrations, and has a patient-facing application.
This will allow you to automate and streamline many of the administrative processes that can take you away from the important face time with your patients, as well as improve the experience for the patient by giving them easy access to their records and care plans, as well as methods for communicating with you outside of visits. According to a study published in the Journal of Hospital Medicine, patients expressed greater satisfaction in the ease of access to information and communication with providers who had adopted an EHR.
Aside from online appointment scheduling, and being able to check in on the status of care plans and test results, patients expect a seamless experience across the spectrum of care. And considering today’s patient has more caretakers than ever on their care teams, an EHR that supports interoperability will allow you to deliver that seamless experience by being able to collaborate with those other providers.
Are you encouraging patients to engage?
While getting patients in the door is critical to building your practice, keeping them coming back is equally as important. So how are you engaging with them once they’ve left their appointment? Consider installing an onsite iPad for patient feedback and review purposes that they can easily access once their appointment is done. This is such a simple way for patients to not only rate their experience, but it also can help support your practice’s digital marketing efforts.
Online reviews are essential in this digital age, acting as a modern-day word-of-mouth referral. According to a BrightLocal survey, consumers will read 10 online reviews, on average, before patronizing a local business and 57% of those surveyed said they will only trust businesses with four or more stars. There is a scary side to reviews, though: every business runs the risk of receiving a bad one. But it’s how you handle the review that makes all the difference. We always say simply ignoring bad reviews isn’t wise and not rewarding good ones isn’t nice.
Yes, there is a lot to think about when it comes to the patient experience and leveraging digital to orchestrate it. But it is something all practice owners have to think about to not just survive, but thrive, in this new world. Keep in mind, it doesn’t all have to be accomplished at one time. Breaking it into smaller, more manageable steps can deliver a big impact. Otherwise, seek out a good digital partner who will guide you through the process. We just might know of one we can refer.