Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Patient Retention: Tips to Improving Communication and Patient Experience

As physicians, you’re already equipped with the ability to communicate with your patients on a regular basis. Be that as it may, communications with doctors and patients today are not as they used to be in times past.

Why? Because as the need for medical attention increases around the country, the amount of patients you see in a given day can become overwhelming. As a result, the first things to suffer are communication and quality customer service.

As we know, communication and involvement with patients is what makes them comfortable – it’s what keeps them coming back. Statistics reported by Solution Reach suggest that doctors lose about 50% of their patients in a five year period.

So how do you lower those percentages in your practice? There are ways in which you can see all of your patients while still being an effective communicator and providing the best customer service. The key is to learn smarter ways to make use of your time. It requires the need to refine basic communication skills and make necessary adjustments that will work for you and your patient.

Make Necessary Adjustments

The average patient’s expectations have certainly changed. Therefore, having basic communication skills may not be enough to ensure patient retention. You see, the average patient wants to be a part of the health care process. They no longer want to be instructed on what to do. Patients are now more informed than ever and will want logic, reasoning, and proof as it pertains to their health and the decisions you make as a medical professional. So how do you make adjustments based on the various changes in patient expectation?

Be Reliable – Reliability is a major component of trust. An unreliable doctor essentially leads to a dissatisfied patient. So if you’ve told a patient that you will call them within a few days to brief them on their lab results, it is necessary that you carry that out. This lets patients know they can rely on you.

Be Available – Patients want to know that whenever they’re in need they can count on their doctor to be there. Being available is not always easy, but finding alternative methods for displaying your presence or concern for their needs is a must.

Quick Tip: Sometimes being physically there for your patients whenever they call is impossible. However, by utilizing technology to your advantage, you can show your patients you care whether they’re in your office or at home. Using platforms such as social media or patient portals can be a great way to do this. It allows patients to communicate with you 24/7 and view pertinent information about their health.

Provide Quality Visits – When a patient comes in to see you, they want the ultimate experience. A customer should be greeted with comfort every time they come to see you. Family Management Practice suggests that you don’t skip the pleasantries. Greet your patients with a smile, show concern, be an involved listener, and most importantly don’t rush them. The key to keeping patients satisfied is making them feel as if their needs were met and that they’re not just another dollar sign.

Quick Tip: A survey or evaluation provided to patients is a great way to measure their experience. Having new patients complete these surveys can keep you and your staff aware of all the areas in which you can improve your customer service and patient experience.

Follow-up/Stay Involved – Even after your patients have left the office staying involved as their doctor is imperative to opening up the lines of communication, building trust, and enhancing their experience as your patient. Find ways to follow up and stay involved with your patients. Whether you send out appointment reminders, send out notices of concern when you haven’t seen them in a while, and even sending out birthday emails or cards can show that you care about them as individuals.

Yes, it can be challenging at times to stay involved with each and every one of your patients, but it is absolutely necessary to ensure they prioritize their health and keep coming to you for treatment. To prevent losing your patients it is important to communicate often and provide them with the best experience possible both in and out of the doctor’s office.

This is a blog post by Nancy Evans.

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