The trust between a patient and the people who provide their healthcare is vital to overall health. Negative experiences with healthcare professionals can prevent people from seeking treatment when they need it, which can lead to major health problems in the long run. In fact, many studies have shown that positive patient experiences correlate with clinical effectiveness and overall patient safety. This supports the case for focusing on creating a positive patient experience that builds rapport between the patient, their doctor, and the healthcare system as a whole.
A medical professional’s main goal should always be focused on providing the highest quality care and the best patient experiences, which in turn leads to patient retention. Fortunately, there are plenty of habits that you can implement within your office and staff protocols to reach these goals. We’ve outlined fourteen practices to improve patient retention below to revamp your practice and keep your patients coming back.
1. Make scheduling appointments easy.
For most people, making appointments is the worst part about going to the doctor. Calling, trying to get ahold of someone, figuring out if there are appointments available when the patient can go; all of it is very overwhelming. Making appointments easy to schedule, providing reminders, and being flexible with scheduling where possible will ensure that your patients don’t put off calling to schedule their appointment. You can also auto-schedule their next appointment so they don’t even have to think about it.
2. Make sure you have an up-to-date Google Business Listing.
Most people rely on Google Business Listings for your company information, hours, address, and phone number. If your Google Business Listing is out of date or non-existent, it’s going to make it difficult for patients to find you. To check this, do a quick search for your name or practice and make sure everything is accurate on the listing. If you’re not sure how to do this, you can find the instructions here.
3. Make appointments available outside of business hours.
Many people struggle to find time to go to the doctor because practice office hours coincide with normal business hours. While this might not be realistic for every day, offering at least some appointment times after hours will give your patients a little more flexibility for booking an appointment if taking time off of work isn’t an option.
4. Return phone calls.
Because medical practice hours are usually the same as regular business hours, people might call and leave messages after the office has closed. Making a point of returning those calls within 24 to 48 hours shows that you care about making sure that your patients are taken care of and getting what they need from their healthcare.
5. Prioritize customer service.
The healthcare system can be confusing and frustrating to navigate. It inevitably leads to frustration and confusion at some points during the patient experience. Making sure that your staff is trained and ready to effectively answer patient questions or concerns is a great way to streamline the patient experience altogether and show that you are a resource to your patients.
6. Always be respectful of your patients.
This goes without saying, but your patients should always feel respected and heard when dealing with your medical practice. From the person who checks them in for their appointment to the doctor that they work with, every step should be conducted to show the patient that they are in a place where they will be listened to and helped.
7. Train your team continuously.
Team training is critical overall, but providing refreshers and additional training on specialized situations can help your employees deal more efficiently and effectively with patient concerns.
8. Seek feedback from patients.
Giving your patients a platform to offer their feedback gives you an open channel to what they’re thinking. This way, you can address problem points in your practice and give your patients a safe space to be heard.
9. Offer additional information.
In some cases, patients might not be ready to take the next step forward in their treatment process, whether it’s consulting a professional or understanding some habits they can implement on their own to help themselves. For these situations, it’s good to have resources to give to the patients so they can investigate their options and think about their next steps before taking the plunge.
10. Pay attention to problems.
When you or your employees notice an ongoing problem, take the time to troubleshoot it and see how you can fix the issue. The same goes for patient feedback. It does you no good to know what frustrates patients if you don’t do anything to fix it.
11. Anticipate obstacles.
As a medical professional, you are more likely to know if there’s a policy or insurance change that will cause confusion or difficulties for your patients. When you see these potential obstacles, do your best to streamline the coping process, either by developing resources for patient reference or training your staff on how to help with them.
12. Open the channels for further questions.
Your patients might have minor questions that come up between appointments. Rather than force them to call or wait for their next appointment to ask them, you can create a platform through which they can ask them and find the information they’re looking for between visits.
13. Follow-up with your patients.
If your patients are working through different treatments, touching base with them after their appointment to see if everything is going okay can be a nice way to open the door for further communication and show them that you care. Plus, if they have questions, you can address them directly.
14. Listen carefully.
Above all else, patients want to feel as though they are heard. When a patient comes to you with a concern or question, they want to feel like someone is listening to them and taking them seriously. Educating all of your employees on how to effectively listen and address patient concerns is a great way to make sure your patients never feel like their being pushed aside or ignored.
Your patients are always the priority as a medical professional and patient retention is based on ensuring that you create a comfortable, open environment for them to get the treatment they need. By using these strategies, you’ll be able to foster an environment that provides the highest quality healthcare and keeps your patients coming back for more.