A negative patient experience can significantly harm your medical center’s business outcomes over time. Missed appointments, lost revenue, and idle equipment and resources all impact your bottom line, but also how patients perceive your care according to their predetermined expectations.
Much of their experience is set before they step into your facility. Your website, online presence, scheduling, insurance verification, and other communication outreach all combine to set a level of care expected from your outpatient medical center before the appointment.
In a post-pandemic age, the shift to virtual appointments and care has further impacted the patient experience. But, while some patients are not sitting in your waiting room or interfacing with your front desk reception, they’re still receiving calls from your representatives or interacting with your facility virtually. In fact, thanks to this shift in how healthcare can be provided, practices and centers and likely being more scrutinized than ever for a seamless experience.
Now, just because patient expectations and how appointments are conducted shifted doesn’t mean you have to stop providing exceptional patient care at every touchpoint. This blog will cover the top three tips on how to improve the patient experience before they come in for an appointment.
What is the patient experience?
Unlike patient satisfaction, patient experience is the set of expectations your patients have surrounding the care you’ll provide and how your provided care aligns with these expectations.
To ensure a positive patient experience, it’s important to set the proper expectations with your patients and provide patient-centered care. From excellent customer service to building trust, these focus points can ensure a patient re-visits and promotes your healthcare facility to others. Read more about using empathy to interface with your customers here.
Patient experience considers every interaction and touchpoint a patient receives, from scheduling the appointment to the follow-up. If a patient has a negative experience, they may not return to your facility or recommend it to others.
Tips to boost the patient experience before they step foot in your office
Here are ways you can boost the patient experience and provide excellent care at your healthcare center:
1. Accelerate patient scheduling and check-ins
Long waiting times and inefficient scheduling systems can negatively impact a person’s experience with your healthcare facility. Consider the following actions to accelerate and streamline the process:
- Update your patients regularly on wait times. It’s better to over-communicate and help set customer expectations than leave them wondering or confused. By notifying your patients the instant an update becomes available, you play a hand in setting a customer’s expectations and this ensures they won’t be in for any surprises when they visit your facility.
- Provide self-check-in services. In general, people are trending more and more towards self-service tools. The tools offer convenience, especially for those who find themselves busy and unable to answer phones or make a call. By providing self-check-in services, you also free your staff’s time to focus on important office tasks.
- Outsource a healthcare contact center to manage appointments. COVID-19 disrupted staffing across the globe. By using a healthcare contact center, you can both provide your patients with a seamless scheduling experience and save your staff resources.
2. Invest in automation
According to Precedence Research's Healthcare Automation Market Report, the global healthcare automation market size was estimated at USD 37.8 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach USD 91.6 billion by 2030.
More than ever, it’s crucial that your outpatient medical center can deliver high-quality experiences, both virtually and in person. This is where automation comes in.
Automation tools allow healthcare centers to customize patient notifications, reminders, and follow-ups, as well as allow for faster confirmation of appointments and real-time updates. This improved patient experience can help create a more positive impression of your healthcare center.
3. Make paperwork available on your website
Provide any paperwork on your website to streamline appointments. Not only will this give your patients the chance to fill the paperwork out without rushing or stressing, but it will also make things go more smoothly once they arrive at your office.
Once the paperwork is online, you can direct patients to the appropriate area during your pre-appointment communications. This will also help set patient expectations; they can fill out any questionnaires and ask questions ahead of time, which will help you make their experience more personalized.
Improve your patient experience at every touchpoint
There are many ways for your outpatient medical center to improve the patient experience. Taking the necessary measures to provide excellent service can increase both patient retention and positive reviews to improve your bottom line.
To learn more about how CCD Health can help you provide an exceptional patient experience and turn it into a competitive advantage, contact us.