What is the patient experience like in your practice? If you are highly specialized or highly in demand, it may not matter to the bottom line of your practice. But, if you want to sustain or grow and have competitors, it absolutely matters.
As I was listening to a webinar today about how practices used technology in surviving COVID, each one that was patient-facing was vital for surviving a pandemic but should have already been happening for patient experience. One of the speakers nailed it by saying, “Meet patients where they are.” Let’s use these tools that we needed to survive to improve the patient experience in your practice long after this pandemic.
Patients should be able to fill out forms online prior to their appointment. Take the time. Spend the money. Do what it takes to never give a patient a clipboard of forms in your office again unless that’s what they prefer. And don’t ask them for things you already have. Don’t make them fill out the whole form just because it’s easier for you.
Waiting outside the office
Waiting sucks. It sucks less to sit in your own car or outside than it does to sit in the lobby of a doctor’s office. It’s always bothered me the idea of a bunch of “sick” people sitting in a room together. Or worse, being the healthy parent sitting in the sick section of the Pediatricians office. I get why it’s done that way. But, seems like an easy way to reduce transmission of infections, especially during peak seasons of illnesses. Does it take a little bit more planning on the practice’s part? Yes. Does it improve the patient experience? Yes. Let your patients check-in online or in person, then wait where they want.
It’s 2021. How are there still practices that don’t offer online payment? Blows my mind. Make it easy for people to pay you. And don’t make them log in to a portal to do it. Make it simple.
Different specialties surely lend themselves to this more than others. And I applaud the practices that have offered it for a long time. But there are a lot of visits that just don’t need an in-person experience. I don’t ever want to show up in person (taking a least an hour of my day with drive time) for a follow-up on labs unless the results would be so horrific that they need to tell me in person. Don’t make patients come into the office just because it’s more convenient for you. Consider what appointments lend themselves to telemedicine and offer them to patients. Some will want to come in. Some won’t. Let them pick to improve the patient experience.
If you are trying to sustain or grow your practice, do everything you can to improve the patient experience in your office. It matters to patients, and it matters to your bottom line.
Amanda Brummitt, FACHE is a customer service snob and an introvert. She applauds practices for re-inventing themselves during COVID-19. And, she sincerely hopes the contactless and improved patient experience continues long past the pandemic. She has over 20 years of experience in hospital and practice management.