How to Improve the Patient Experience? 12 Proven Strategies
Wondering how to improve the patient experience in your clinic? Discover these 12 simple steps that'll boost patient satisfaction, and see how tools like CallPage can transform the patient experience from the first click to the last appointment.
Patients are the heart and soul of your practice. From small medical clinics to modern dental offices, patient satisfaction is often the deciding factor between a practice that thrives and one that falls short of its treatment goals.
So, if your team isn't already taking the necessary steps to improve the patient experience in your clinic, it's time to take a hard look at your current procedures and start making some important decisions about the areas where your overall patient satisfaction might be lacking, and most importantly, how to focus on improving your care.
Why Patient Satisfaction Matters
Before you can start improving patient satisfaction, you need to understand why their experiences are so important for your practice.
Improved Health Outcomes
First, your goal as a medical provider is to provide high-quality care for your patients. However, that's difficult to do if patients aren't included to take your advice. Research shows that patients are more likely to follow their treatment plans when they've had a positive patient experience, making their satisfaction crucial to their overall health outcomes.
Better Patient Retention
Positive health outcomes lead to happier patients. This helps you achieve greater patient retention rates for the clinic, making your practice more sustainable in the long term and allowing you to grow your services with each satisfied patient.
More New Patients
Satisfied patients are more likely to recommend your clinic to friends, family members, and anyone else who may ask. Moreover, many patients will be inclined to write positive reviews for your health organization if they've had a truly outstanding patient experience, and online review platforms are among the first places prospective patients go when researching a new doctor.
Reduced Operating Costs
When you improve patient experiences, it doesn't just benefit them. It can also reduce your overall operating costs by eliminating the risks associated with patient dissatisfaction, which can often lead to malpractice accusations and other costly litigation. Optimizing your care delivery options by improving patient experiences also leads to more streamlined procedures for your staff, reducing your operating costs and creating a more effective environment.
12 Ways To Improve Patient Satisfaction
Now that you have a better idea of why patient satisfaction is so crucial for healthcare providers let's take a look at the top 12 ways you can make sure that your patients leave your clinic feeling optimistic and positive about their overall care.
1. Easy Scheduling Systems
If you think that patient experiences start within the walls of your clinic, think again. The truth is that your patients start forming a positive or negative opinion of your practice before they even walk through your doors, beginning with scheduling an appointment.
Many patients turn to the internet to find doctors and clinics near them and often prefer to book an appointment online if possible. That's why you should make sure you have a smooth scheduling system in place for your practice, particularly via your website.
Another good idea is to set up an automated callback system through platforms like CallPage. Besides offering a meeting scheduling tool, CallPage also allows your website visitor to receive a callback directly from your clinic in less than 28 seconds.
Just in case they aren't ready to schedule an appointment just yet, CallPage also gives them the option to leave a message for your office or request a call at a later time, putting all the power in your patient's hands.
Additionally, you can also consider setting appointment reminders via text messages or emails. These not only reduce the risk of a patient missing their appointment, they also indicate that your practice cares about their time and keeps them connected to their healthcare providers in between appointments.
2. Upgrade Your Waiting Room
To be frank, most patients don't look forward to sitting around in a clinic's waiting room. And while you may not be able to eliminate their wait times completely, you can certainly make their experiences more pleasant.
3. Offer Refreshments
Something as simple as offering a quick bite to eat can go a long way in terms of improving patient satisfaction. Of course, this may vary depending on your area of practice, but a fresh pot of coffee, a basket of baked goods, or a cool water dispenser can greatly impact the comfort of your patients.
4. Provide Entertainment
In an ideal world, your patient wait times wouldn't be long enough for your patients to sit around watching TV. But in reality, having some current magazines or family-friendly TV programs on can do a lot in terms of making their wait go by as quickly as possible.
5. Invest In Quality Furnishings
Having a sleek, clean environment for your patients instantly puts their minds at ease, and your waiting room is no exception. In addition to keeping your waiting area spotlessly sanitized, make sure you invest in comfortable furniture that will be suitable for guests of all ages and medical conditions.
6. Streamline Your Paperwork Process
One of the biggest complaints in patient feedback forms is the amount of paperwork they need to fill out prior to their appointment. If you're not already using iPads or tablets in your check-in process, these tools are extremely quick and efficient to use for patients who only need to answer a few quick questions for their care providers.
If you need them to complete more involved intake forms, make sure you avoid using paperwork that forces them to repeat the same information again and again. Not only does this waste a significant amount of time, it also creates frustration in your patients before they even enter the exam room.
Finally, for complex patient paperwork, offer to help patients by going over their forms with them. This is a small gesture that greatly impacts patients' experiences, showing them that your team cares about their satisfaction and ensuring that they won't miss any important information on their forms.
7. Set Reasonable Patient Expectations
Patients want to feel like their healthcare providers are being honest with them, and this begins while they're still in the waiting room. Instead of telling a patient that their doctor will be right with them, try implementing transparent procedures that set reasonable expectations for their experience.
For example, if you know your practitioner is going to be a while, let them know how long they can expect to wait. This creates a sense of transparency that can greatly influence the patient's perspective on your clinic.
8. Keep Eye Contact
Listening to your patients is the first step in creating a high-quality treatment plan that meets their needs. However, if you fail to practice active listening strategies, your patients may feel as if their voice is not being heard. A great way to fix this is to practice eye contact throughout their appointment.
As healthcare providers, it's easy to remain focused on our notes during the exam process. That's why practicing the art of eye contact is often easier said than done. That being said, something as simple as acknowledging their pain by looking them in the eye leads to more positive interactions and better patient outcomes in the long run.
9. Empower Patients Via Questions
No one understands your patients' concerns quite like they do, which is why good patient communication is essential to providing high-quality medical care. Throughout your exam, be sure that you're asking them engaging questions that show you care about their symptoms and opinions.
This will help you identify the best treatment options for their needs and give them a voice in their own care, which leads to better patient loyalty to your healthcare practice.
10. Limit Repetitive Health Systems
Bureaucracy is one of the greatest disruptors of positive patient experiences, especially when it involves forcing them to repeat the same information constantly. From intake forms to the billing process, your healthcare organization should look for ways to improve the quality of your system by eliminating any redundancies.
11. Be Empathetic To Patients' Health
Disease management can be a challenging process for patients. That's why healthcare providers can't just rely on offering quality care for their patient's needs. Rather, they should place a significant emphasis on practicing empathy at every stage of the treatment process.
This patient-centered care approach has proven to be hugely successful at improving patient satisfaction, leading to positive outcomes for patients and their providers alike.
12. Always End With Patient Approval
In order to really enhance patient satisfaction, you need to keep them engaged throughout their appointments and treatments. Before you place your patient on a treatment plan, make sure that they fully understand the options available to them and what it will mean for their overall health. This can be as simple as verbally confirming that they're on the same page in terms of their care.
Keep in mind that the patient may have additional questions or concerns about their care plan, and you should always be prepared to address them as compassionately as possible. Affirm that you understand their perspective and assure them that you're committed to providing the best quality care possible.
Utilize Patient Satisfaction Surveys
Ultimately, patient satisfaction is a journey, not a destination. That means that healthcare organizations should constantly be evolving their practices to better enhance the patient experience in their clinic. If you want to make it easy to improve patient satisfaction, measuring patient experience through surveys is a great way to discover the areas where your team can make changes.
After follow-up appointments, include a brief patient satisfaction survey that allows them to share their experiences by ranking them on a scale. This can include:
- patient wait times
- helpfulness of the staff
- interactions with their healthcare provider
- billing process
Along with these patient satisfaction scores, include a feedback section where they can offer a more detailed explanation of their experience if they choose to. This can give you deeper insight into the reasons why your patient satisfaction might not be where you'd like it to be. Most patients want to be heard, and using patient experience scores is an easy and effective way to allow them to share their thoughts safely and anonymously.
Enhanced Patient Experience Tools
Happy patients are an absolute must for a thriving medical practice, and it all starts with making your clinic easily accessible from the very first encounter forward. Today, there are many technologies that allow healthcare providers to streamline their patient flow, improve engagement, and increase patient satisfaction before, during, and after their appointments.
For more insight on how tools like CallPage can enhance your patient experience, connect with a member of our team today.