Patient experience is probably the most important variable which creates your brand. It may even rival the physician-patient relationship as being the most important reason patients love or…hate your office.
While patient experience does include the time spent with the physician, for this article, let’s just focus on every interaction besides the healthcare provider. After all, patients spend about 80% of their time NOT with the doctor.
Here are some common pitfalls or “touch points” we all share. These touch points can be hurdles for your patient and can invoke anxiety, frustration or even anger. On the other hand, paying attention to these touch points could represent areas of strength for your practice…and brand.
“Your Call is Very Important to Us”
Really? Nothing more irritating than a message on hold. No bigger statement that says we are so busy and distracted that we might not be able to help you in a timely manner.
Being placed on hold is disrespectful of your patient’s time. Changing voices, as the messages change, depersonalizes the call.
Message on hold can lead to frustration and anxiety. It’s right up there with leaving a voicemail…after being on hold.
When was the last time you placed a call, to any business, and a real live person answered the phone?
What if you did that for your patients? What if the very first time a new patient called your office you answered the phone “live”? That would be a great way to start off this new relationship.
New Office Visit
Going to a new office can be confusing and intimidating.
There is confusion about parking, then actually walking to the office, what about new forms or records sent from the referring doctor’s office? There are worries about types of payment and when payment may be due.
You can see how this can add up…and the patient hasn’t even seen the doctor yet.
Purgatory – The Waiting Room
Similar to being place on hold, waiting devalues a patient’s time. Completing new patient forms prior to arrival to a new office does not ever seem to reduce the wait, it just produces frustration, maybe anger.
In my offices, we usually have multiple providers seeing patients, but only one waiting room. There is ALWAYS confusion (actually anger) when certain patients get called before others (Hey! I was here first.)
Even the insurance specialists get confused. Staff and patients get confused all the time, especially in areas with dozens of insurance companies.
Disagreements about co-pays, or worse, overcharging a co-pay leads to distrust and casts doubt over the capabilities of your office. A common mistake in our office is charging a co-pay for a post-op visit…although I think we are improving.
The Front Line
Your front office staff are the most important (yet probably paid the least) employees in your office. They greet and send-off your patients…hopefully sincerely and with cheer.
How often are they distracted, inattentive or seem disinterested (probably because the phone keeps ringing)?
Too often, patients start the office visit with a negative touch point and end with one, too.
All the best!