Quality patient care is key to succeeding as a medical practice. When patients are satisfied, they’re more likely to seek additional care and refer their friends and family.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues, it’s important to prioritize patient care—not just for your patients’ health and comfort, but for your practice’s survival. Here are four ways to improve the patient experience at your medical office:
1. Improve your telehealth services
Implementing or improving telehealth services in your practice can be critical to staying competitive and profitable in the current business climate.
According to a COVID-19 consumer survey from McKinsey, 46% of consumers in 2020 are using telehealth as a replacement for their regular healthcare visits, compared to just 11% in 2019. And the trend isn’t disappearing soon; 76% of respondents said they’re interested in using telehealth going forward.
To help patients get the most out of virtual visits, consider taking the following steps:
- Send a digital and physical brochure to patients on all things telehealth. In the guide, you may want to list your office’s telehealth offerings; explain how to schedule telehealth appointments; provide instructions for setting up a device for video calls; or offer tips for preparing for a virtual appointment, like checking the Wi-Fi or finding a quiet space to chat.
- Expand access to telehealth appointments. You may need to provide closed captioning on videos, for example, or offer free phone consultations to patients who need personal assistance getting set up.
- Teach your medical staff the importance of developing a “web-side” manner. That means greeting patients warmly, asking if they have concerns about using their video equipment, and speaking clearly to avoid miscommunications.
- Follow up. Taking the time to call or email patients after a telehealth appointment can help reduce confusion and increase satisfaction.
2. Gather patient feedback
It can be tough to keep up with your patients’ changing needs, but getting feedback can help you adapt your care.
To start, send out a patient survey via email or text message. According to a 2018 MGMA report, 86% of the top performing medical groups sent patient surveys after each visit, then reviewed those surveys at least once a month. You can include questions about treatment effectiveness, scheduling, customer service, communication, or any new processes you’ve implemented.
It’s also helpful to read and respond to your practice’s online reviews, especially ones that slant negative. A 2019 survey from PatientPop said that 52% of patients who submitted negative feedback weren’t contacted by the practice; however, when a practice does respond to a negative review, the rate of patient satisfaction nearly doubles.
A thoughtful, concerned reply is only one half of the equation, though. You also have to take note of recurring criticisms and work on addressing the root issues, whether they’re related to customer service or quality of care.
3. Prioritize price transparency
Being transparent about your practice’s treatment and visit costs can help patients make more informed choices about their healthcare.
According to The VisitPay Report 2020, 58% of patients said they’d like to have an in-person conversation about treatment costs when registering or checking out, but 54% of healthcare practices don’t voluntarily provide information on costs prior to treatment.
Sharing prices upfront means patients won’t be confused or blindsided by their medical bills. VisitPay said the top three things patients want to see are: an explanation of benefits, a single consolidated monthly billing sheet, and cost estimates prior to service.
In addition to including that information on your website or patient portal, it’s also a good idea to train your staff on financial matters. Make sure they can review bills with patients, answer questions about insurance, or suggest payment options and plans.
4. Lead with empathy
The patient experience encompasses every aspect of a medical visit—from contacting a practice to paying your bill—but quality care comes down to personal interactions.
According to the Deloitte 2020 Survey of US Health Care Consumers, survey respondents said the two most important qualities for a doctor in 2020 are: 1) a doctor who listens and shows they care (44%) and 2) a doctor who takes their time and doesn’t rush the appointment or explanation (42%).
You can improve patient interactions by leading with empathy and compassion. Taking the time to listen, ask questions, and validate your patients’ feelings and experiences can go a long way toward making them feel safe and heard.
Improving patient care is an investment in your practice’s long-term success. Make positive changes today by gathering patient feedback, considering telehealth systems, and revamping one-on-one interactions. And if you need flexible capital to purchase telehealth software or invest in staff training, consider applying for a business line of credit.
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