How can you improve patient satisfaction and retention?
There, I have asked the question that had been weighing down on me since we were slapped on the face with the pandemic (sorry social distancing, let’s put it as masked face). Everyone has been going on about how hospitals need to be better equipped and how things should have been better handled, it is easier said than done, if you ask me. Yes it is tough, but we as members of the healthcare fraternity owe it to humanity to lead the way, show them how to care, show them that they matter.
Providing high quality and efficient service to see that your patient experience, patient satisfaction, and patient retention scale tip in your favour is worth both your time and effort. So let me chart out 3 important things you need to know about patient experience before you start out and give you 7 ways in which you can improve it.
For starters, patient satisfaction is whether or not you met the expectations of a patient with the services that were offered to them (how did we do, did the doctor explain things clearly, how did the nurses treat you etc.). But patient experience is your ability to be able to attract or retain your patients – whether everyone was communicating well, how often the patient got what they wanted, was it a well-oiled machine, whether trusted partnerships can be forged between the patient and the provider.
As a provider, the pandemic has brought down the number of in-person visits. Social distancing measures in place also means that as providers you need to leverage technology especially digital tools to survive. Telehealth has bridged that gap between patients and providers. 61% doctors have ranked telehealth as the digital technology that is most expected to improve patient experience.
A single positive patient experience can have a long lasting effect and ensure that patients will firstly return, and the best part recommend you to their family and friends. By understanding your patients better and monitoring feedbacks you receive from them will help you create an atmosphere that will inspire loyalty. That’s why I say that as your patient experience improves, it will elevate your stature as a physician or provider too.
So how do you go about improving patient experiences now that you know what’s important.
Taking great care of your patients, is being available to them both online and offline. Since the pandemic, the online part can be emphasised enough. Make sure that your website is up-to-date, update or create profiles in healthcare and business directories. Also make sure that you invest in digital technologies like Telehealth and promote that on your website to attract more patients and improve the experience of existing ones.
Have some wonderful testimonials in place. Be on the lookout on social media as well, write helpful blog content and share it on various platforms. Why am I giving you marketing advice? Well that is the way patients are going to drive up to your website and learn more about you, gain value healthcare information and in turn improve patient experience.
I may be repeating myself here, the services that you offered your patients offline, must necessarily go online if you are looking for ways to improve patient experience. So give them options to book their appointments online. 42% patients prefer to book their appointments online. This means that turning to online scheduling can prove beneficial for improving patient care outcomes. Customer contact centers (CCCs) are a patient’s first way of contacting you. If used effectively, they can improve patient experience and satisfaction by a large extent.
Sending out reminders to patients ensures that they keep their appointments and also shows them that you value their time. This solution is easy to implement and at the same time keeps your patient engaged. 23% patients are more likely to keep their appointments when they received notifications than those with no notification.
Wasted time is attention lost, which means patient lost. So sometimes it is having e-prescriptions being handed out instead of having to wait it out. Sometimes it is conducting diagnostic tests and sharing the results quickly, and sometimes it is having the facility to check-in digitally. Digital check ins can do away with having to wait a long time, deliver better care faster, and improve patient experience. Having a digital patient check in system can also reduce burden of your staff, make patient record sharing easier, and get more patients to sign up for your patient portal.
Patient care must always be at the center of everything you do. Opting for digital technologies like telehealth, auto-reminders, digital check-ins, wearables, online scheduling can go a long way in keeping your patient with you and helps them stay connected in an accessible, seamless, and fast way with you.
Before you respond to feedbacks know that what’s important in the first place is collecting them from patients first hand. And when it comes to responding to feedback remember – when there is good, there is bound to be some bad, acknowledge both. Respond to all your feedbacks, that way you can gain their trust and through this kind of patient engagement you show that patient experiences matter a lot to you. Remember to adhere to HIPPA guidelines when you do so, never mention any Protected Health Information (PHI) about the reviewer or give any other details that may suggest that they were patients.
Email them regularly, it could be a newsletter or a promotional offer that you have for them, healthcare tips, or even blogs about new services that you have introduced. You can also use emails to send out reminders. Remember out of sight is out of mind.
Once patients have experienced the best there is, then it is no turning back for them. Armed with digital tools, physicians, payers, and providers can gain an edge by leaping towards the future, faster than their peers. Take these steps to ensure a great experience for your patients, this will help increase patient satisfaction and in turn better patient outcomes, higher satisfaction scores, and ultimately attract new patients.
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