One thing that comes to mind, when thinking of increasing patient retention, is ‘patient satisfaction’. Satisfying your patients by providing quality of care is not as simple as providing them with the best cure for their ailment. It is more than that, patients who like to come again and again to your practice, refer you to their acquaintances and endorse your practice on social networks is something that requires patient engagement at many levels.
We are living in an era of personalized ‘customer service’. Treat your patients similar to clients in other industries by focusing on their needs and what they expect of your office. They want someone who has individually paid attention, listened to them, provided the best advice and treatment and has fairly charged them for the services rendered.
The dilemma of modern practices is that physicians are more engaged with their computers, using electronic heath records or practice management systems and in effect making less eye contact with their patients. It gives an impression that physicians are more interested in the gadgets that they are using than passionately connecting with their patients. However, after healthcare reforms, technology supported care has become imperative. When everything from appointment scheduling to prescription of medicine is computer based then such technologies would definitely take half of a physician’s attention in a typical time slot booked for a patient.
In this scenario, the question stays the same that how to retain more patients and also get new referrals. Despite all those factors that are making it difficult to achieve, by changing a few processes in a practice, physicians can positively engage their patients and attract new referrals.
Create a Patient Experience Strategy
Create a clear strategy of handling your patients by imparting an experience of satisfaction and personalized attention. It starts from the phone call that your front desk officer answers when a patient inquires about available timeslot for visit. Although it can be quite hectic to answer multiple calls in peak hours, a cordial and satisfying response over the phone is the first thing to win the trust of your patients.
Make the Best First Impression
The first impression that your patients get is when they walk into the waiting area. During the first few minutes, they would absorb the surroundings by looking at the waiting area and how the staff interacts. Front desk staff of a practice represents what standards you have maintained of human resources and delivering care. The front desk should be an embodiment of professionalism, responsiveness, and efficiency. You should periodically check for any feedback from the patients about the staff and if necessary train your staff on the importance of good communication skills.
Avoid Unexpected Wait Times
Make a logical schedule and stick to it. Unexpected long delays are the most frustrating thing in any scenario. It is better to take most the information over the phone and avoid long queues to complete the paperwork. Learn to take maximum advantage of EHR/EMR systems. Almost all of the electronic health record systems have an integrated scheduling dashboard. Use it effectively and it is best to connect it with a patient portal using which patients can electronically forward a preferred time to visit.
Expand Your Online Presence
Online networks are a preferred medium when we talk about reaching out to your visitors and getting feedback. Your practice should have a website to make it visible to patients. Most of your first-time visitors would learn about your through the website. So, if a practice has a good website to showcase it would expand the reach and would be very convenient to find out the address and contact numbers. Similarly, maintain your practice’s page on social media and keep your follower updated about the latest news of your practice. Happy customers would share your posts and would refer it to their family and friends. SybridMD offers Web Design and Online Reputation Management Services to its valued client. Make it easy for patients to find you, learn more about you, and easily schedule an appointment with you. With your claimed profile, you’ll be able to capture your own search engine traffic and move up in Google search rankings! Please request a free quote.
Listen up and Respond to Complaints
Listen to complaints of your visitors and respond quickly to resolve the issues. You can put a complaint box at a prominent place in your practice or can also send weekly or monthly emails to your patients to get the feedback. Do not ignore the negative feedback, listen to it and compensate your patients for any inconvenience.
After the appointment is scheduled, give your patients a reminder through call or you can simply leave a message. Similarly, after the visit, train your staff to make follow-up calls in the free time and positively engage the patients. These follow-up calls are a good way of connecting with your patients, earn a reputation of care and helps to retain patients. It would make them happy and they would refer your practice to others.
Every practice should periodically check for the number of visits every week or month and compare it with the previous month. A decline in patient visits is an alarming situation and you should immediately check for the reasons. Encourage your patients to refer your practice and ask for the good rating over the social networks. Making these simple changes would positively impact your practice and you would see an increase in patient retentions and new referrals.