This blog is Part 1 of a three-part series on improving the patient experience to build patient retention at your practice. Also check out Part 2 and Part 3.
Most providers today recognize the patient experience extends beyond the exam room. In fact, the patient experience begins before a person is even a patient — it begins the moment they start their search for a doctor like you.
The information your practice puts forth online effects patient experience. So does how your practice communicates with people once they’ve booked — if your practice communicates at all, that is. In fact, there are a million little things that contribute to how patients view your practice before they ever step foot through your doors.
Here, we examine two ways you can make a great first impression to convince prospective patients to book appointments. We also discuss two ways you can positively affect patient experience before their scheduled arrival, ultimately helping you persuade them to come again.
Create a Helpful Online Presence
More than 72 percent of Americans begin their search for healthcare providers online. Understanding where and how you appear online, especially in comparison to other providers in your area, is essential for successful patient marketing.
Consider these questions:
- If you search for your specialty and location using Google, does your practice website appear at the top of results?
- Do any of your healthcare and business directories show up? If they do, does each listing contain information about your background and services?
- Can you be found on social media sites? Do you share information patients want to see?
A helpful online presence is one that provides clear and consistent information. Any site where patients can find you should include your phone number, address, photos, and services.
Digitally savvy patients are also turning to social media for more information, similar to how they use a search engine. They use social media profiles to assure themselves that your practice is legitimate and offers their needed services. Being active on sites like Facebook and Twitter gives you greater control over sharing your practice’s information while connecting with your patient base.
Read: Why It’s Important for Healthcare Providers to Claim Business Listings
Design Your Website With Patients in Mind
Patients are in search of resources that will give them a sense of what their experience at your practice might be like. Making important information about your practice easily accessible will build trust with prospective patients and increase the chance they refer back to your website again and again.
This can be done with a thoughtful biography, by providing answers to frequently asked questions, and by clearly listing hours of operation, accepted insurance, and services — and sometimes even including prices.
A website is even better if patients can conveniently schedule appointments at any time, instead of having to call during business hours. (PatientPop research shows 42 percent of patients prefer to use online scheduling, rather than the telephone.)
Send Appointment Confirmations and Reminders
When a patient schedules an appointment, you want them to feel confident they’ve actually been penciled in. It’s good customer service, plain and simple. You can put patients at ease by sending them appointment confirmations soon after they’ve booked.
Another way to positively affect patient experience is to remind patients of their appointments as they approach. Busy patients view reminders as you being respectful of their time and — if your practice charges fees for cancellations or missed appointments — money. As a benefit to you, timely reminders are proven to reduce late arrivals and no-shows.
Check Out: How to Automate Appointment Reminders and Routine Practice Tasks
Expedite the Intake Process
You’d be hard-pressed to find a patient who enjoys spending the first 20 minutes of their appointment sitting in the waiting room filling out paperwork. Intake forms are tedious and sometimes confusing, especially if a person isn’t very knowledgeable about their family health history.
Paperwork can slow down your office, too, because some patients take their time to carefully read terms and conditions. On the other end of the spectrum are patients who fill out forms haphazardly, which can be a headache for your staff who are left having to decipher illegible writing or otherwise fill in the blanks.
Create a win-win situation by giving patients the ability to view, print, and fill out new patient forms before they come into the office. Patients who take advantage of this offering can sit back and enjoy your waiting room, and your office can keep everyone moving at the scheduled pace.
Small changes like these to the pre-visit experience can collectively make a big difference in patient retention. Learn more ways to keep patients coming back to your practice in the blog “4 Ways Healthcare Providers Can Encourage Regular Patient Visits.”