Attracting new patients to your practice is one thing. Keeping current patients happy? That’s another matter entirely.
Patient satisfaction can impact your practice in a big way. For starters, patients leaving your practice results in a loss of revenue. This, coupled with a patient’s ability to review your practice online, makes patient satisfaction worth investing in.
When focusing on patient satisfaction, the temptation to splurge on patient-facing technologies and luxurious office amenities is always there. But before you go this route, you should first consider making a few upgrades that will benefit your staff.
A well-supported, empowered staff can have a big effect on patient satisfaction. When your staff is cheerful, prompt, and professional, patients are more likely to have a positive experience. If your staff is brusque and visibly overwhelmed or uncaring, patients could leave dissatisfied — and possibly never return.
Read on for tips on how you can empower staff as well as technologies you can implement to make your staff’s lives easier.
Boosting patient satisfaction through an empowered staff
Why empowering your staff helps to boost patient satisfaction
Employee engagement is difficult in any industry. Factor in the stress of working in the medical or dental industry, and the dire need for empowering and engaging your staff is apparent.
A happy worker is a productive worker. According to a Gallup analysis, engaged workers are 21 percent more productive than their non-engaged counterparts. Similarly, having a happy, engaged staff will result in a better experience for patients.
Physician burnout, meet staff burnout
When people consider overwork in the healthcare industry, most likely think about physician burnout. Though it’s true 42 percent of physicians feel burnout, according to Medscape, medical staff also feel the pinch. In fact, 41 percent of front-office staff report feeling burned out, according to a study in the Journal of General Internal medicine.
Burnout can negatively affect staff performance, resulting in an overall unsatisfactory experience for patients. It can also cause turnover, leaving you with the unwanted task of hiring and training new employees.
The L.E.A.D. approach for boosting staff satisfaction
Before diving into the many technologies that can boost patient satisfaction and empower your staff, it’s important to note the things you can do without technologies. In particular, the L.E.A.D. approach can be an effective way to ensure your staff is being heard, receiving the support they need, and growing as a team.
- Listen: Actively seek feedback from your staff to see what pain points they’re experiencing, how you can better serve them, and where your office is lacking overall. This can be done during weekly meetings or through surveys sent out every month or quarter.
- Encourage: Be sure to encourage your administrative staff every chance you get, making it clear you see the value they bring to the office and to the team as a whole. This is also an opportune time to encourage them to take on more responsibility, and to push themselves even farther.
- Acknowledge: This can be as simple as a “thank you” or something more in depth, like a rewards or bonus system. The important thing is to make sure your team knows they’re appreciated, especially when they go above and beyond.
- Develop: The most difficult of all four steps, this involves fostering growth in both your team and its individuals. Consistently reach out and make sure your team has the support and resources it needs to grow, learn, and further develop their skills and career.
The above outline can help your team grow, stay happy, and operate more effectively. Most importantly, you’ll have a staff that enjoys their job and work environment more, and better serves the patients that make it all possible.
7 technologies for empowering staff and increasing patient satisfaction
There are many technological advancements that can help reduce the burden on staff and prevent burnout. As an added bonus, these same technologies can create a better experience for your patients.
1. Online appointment scheduling
Practices have been converting entirely to a digital office in the wake of the 2013 HIPAA changes. With your practice’s records digital, offering an online appointment scheduling system is a natural next step with several advantages.
- Online appointment scheduling empowers your patients with the ability to schedule their own appointments.
- Putting appointment scheduling in the hands of your patients means your staff is freed up to tackle other tasks and focus on more important matters.
- Removing this task from your staff means they have one less thing to stress about, helping reduce their overall risk of burnout.
- Your staff has less phone volume to handle.
- Online appointment scheduling leaves a better first impression for those interested in your practice, and could increase the chances they return.
2. Automated appointment reminders
Automated appointment reminders tie in neatly with online scheduling. With automated appointment reminders, your patients receive email or text reminders of their upcoming appointments.
Much like online scheduling, this removes a large volume of your staff’s outgoing calls, freeing them up to focus on other tasks. This can also reduce your rate of no-shows and build your reputation as a transparent practice.
3. Requests for patient feedback
A requests for patient feedback feature allows your practice to send patients a message asking them to complete a patient satisfaction survey after each visit. This provides several benefits:
- Increases the likelihood that your practice receives useful feedback and information needed to grow
- Prevents staff from having to personally ask patients if they’d like to provide feedback
- Gives you the opportunity to appease current patients and address any concerns they have
- Results in a better-operating practice, increasing the chances future patients have a better experience
- Accumulating more reviews can send positive signals online to those looking for their next practice, helping you stand out against practices with few or no reviews
Furthermore, many practices lack a feedback system. So by having one, you position your practice to outpace the competition and stay on top of potential patient issues.
4. Patient communication campaigns
A patient communication campaign is the act of sending targeted messages to patients. These messages can be segmented by audience type into lists, allowing you to target patients with specific needs or interests. These messages can serve numerous purposes, some of which include:
- Information about new services being offered at your practice
- Education on a new health threat, available vaccination, or other health-related issue
- Reminders to book a well visit or to schedule a yearly vaccination such as the flu vaccine
All of these things, though helpful to the patient, also help ensure you’re the first name that comes to mind when they have health-related questions or concerns or need care. Patient communication campaigns can help instil your brand in mind and forge lasting relationships with your patients.
Patient communication campaigns also benefit your staff by helping them feel a greater connection to the patients. Not only this, these campaigns are a great fit for those new to the practice and working at the front desk, as they help them get to know your different audiences.
5. Live chat
Many non-medical sites offer a live chat feature on their site, allowing visitors to talk to a qualified representative. This gives them the opportunity to ask questions about products or services, and can help prevent issues from turning into negative reviews online.
Some practices are now beginning to offer live chat, which serves several purposes:
- Current patients can ask questions about scheduling, services, or even inquire about a potential medical issue.
- Prospective patients have the chance to inquire about insurance, wait times, vaccines offered, and so on.
- Those who have had a bad experience are able to speak with a member of your team, giving you the chance to stop a potential bad review.
Although non-medical companies can have service reps handling online communications, your office should stick to using qualified medical professionals to ensure accurate information is always given.
Healthcare marketing trends: social questions and answers
6. Online registration and check-in
Filling out check-in paperwork can be time consuming for your patients, and requires your front desk staff handle the back and forth as well. Offering an online check-in system — or at least making intake forms available on your website before an appointment — allows your patients to give any necessary information ahead of time. This can result in a much smoother check-in process when they actually arrive, as their “paperwork” is already completed.
This will prevent your patients from having to arrive as early, and frees up your front desk staff to focus on other tasks or spend more time communicating with patients about any issues, versus their paperwork.
7. Internal text messaging for staff
HIPAA regulations are strict about internal communications between staff members, especially concerning text messaging. The sharing of any patient information on non-secure lines can result in hefty fines, the loss of staff, and lawsuits.
With proper internal text messaging software and protocols, your staff members can communicate with one another via text messaging. This allows them to share information quickly, address any issues or concerns, and stay in the loop even if they’re out of the office or traveling.
Another benefit of internal messaging is that it can enable a more efficient workflow, resulting in a better experience for patients. A McKinsey study found that social technologies can boost productivity in workers by anywhere from 20-25 percent. This could result in a reduction of the time your patients are waiting around in the office and boost their satisfaction.
More on HIPAA: How to engage on social media with HIPAA in mind
The big picture
All of the tactics and technologies included in this blog post accomplish different goals, but work toward the same thing: fewer manual tasks and greater value for your staff and patients.
The aforementioned technologies will help your staff be more productive, stress less about the small tasks, and focus on offering a better service for your patients. Although nothing can completely prevent burnout, these technologies will help your staff stress less about everyday tasks.
Furthermore, these technologies can help you cut out time-consuming, unnecessary tasks. This can help you determine exactly how many people you need working at your front desk, reducing overhead and giving you the resources to treat your current staff even better.
Most importantly, the alleviation of stress from your staff will help them perform better, deliver a better service to your patients and, as a result, boost overall patient satisfaction.
For more information on how to better support your staff with the goal of boosting patient satisfaction, check out the PatientPop webinar “Empowering your practice staff: 4 ways to drive efficiency and create a happier team.” Your staff and patients deserve the best you can offer. With the right tactics and technologies, you can ensure you’re always delivering the best experience, in-house and out.