If you’re trying to grow your practice, you know how important the patient experience is. It determines how you take care of patients, how easy you are to work with, and how likely it is that patients become champions who bring you new business. But is your patient journey up to snuff? Are you working to constantly improve it? And what mechanisms are you using to get feedback from patients? How are you making sure patients are allies of your practice and not just another patient? Let’s go over a few steps your practice can take to develop a rock-solid patient journey.
Think About People, Not Patients
It’s easy to get in the habit of thinking of humans as just a revenue stream. As Paul Goodman noted in a recent article, you should be thinking of them as people; friends, even. They all have feelings, unique needs, and frustrations just like anybody else. Everyone in your practice should be thinking about how to offer excellent care to people. Staff should treat patients with as much care as they would a friend or family member. That means being courteous, friendly, and most importantly, responsive and attentive. Remember, this doesn’t just apply to office interactions. This applies to everything in the patient journey. Which leads us to our next section.
Map Your Patient Journey
When is the last time you sat down to outline every step in a patient journey? If you haven’t, now is the time. You’ll want to map out:
Acquisition – Where are patients coming from? Google search? Word of mouth? Your website?
Appointment setting – What is the experience like for some calling in to set an appointment? Is the process smooth and easy? Could it be easier by letting patients set their own appointments online?
Check-in – What is the first thing someone sees when they come in for an appointment? Are they greeted in a friendly manner? What is the waiting room like? What is wait time like?
Procedure – Is every effort made to keep patients comfortable and entertained while they wait for a procedure? Are hygienists courteous and friendly? Are doctors?
Check-out – Is checkout quick and easy? Are patients asked to schedule follow-ups immediately?
Feedback – This one is crucial. After visits, are you asking for reviews, referrals, and feedback? What are you doing to apply feedback?
Give Patients a Voice
As we noted, gathering feedback is one of the most critical parts of the patient journey. According to Kolsky, 91% of people don’t let companies know about problems they’ve had. Instead, they quietly go somewhere else for services. If you’re not asking what people think, how do you know you’re doing great? How can you be sure you’re not losing valuable patients? Whether you ask patients to leave reviews or automate the process of gathering feedback with a software solution, you must begin doing it. All told, feedback helps you:
Improve your practice – You’ll be able to identify and correct issues you may not know about. This also gives you the opportunity to find ways to make the overall patient journey even better.
Turn feedback into referrals – Patients who leave positive feedback online become powerful marketing allies. Your reviews tell the online world how great you are, help improve your search rankings, and get more eyes on your practice. Put simply, reviews help you keep your chair full by helping you stand out.
The patient journey can be your growth engine—but only if you consider how to constantly collect and apply feedback. With a well-oiled patient journey, your existing patients become your champions who leave you great reviews, give you more visibility, and a better reputation online and off.
Want more info on how to improve the patient experience? Take a look at our infographic Turning Patient Experience Into Practice Growth