All companies from restaurant chains to amusement parks spend millions of dollars every year researching what consumers want. They know improving their patrons’ experience increases the odds of them returning and referring friends and family.
Running a successful medical practice is no different when it comes to paying attention to what your patients appreciate in order to provide a sense of quality and intrinsic value.
A Focus on Patient Experience is Key to Promoting Perceived Value
From the first few seconds a new patient walks in the front door of your practice they are critically assessing it. For many Americans, a doctor’s appointment is considered a costly expenditure, though a necessary one. Many people do not look forward to it or expect to enjoy themselves. This provides an opportunity for eye care practices to create an exceptional experience that shows respect for their time and money… and makes it easier for them to schedule a return visit for more services.
First Impressions are Everything
As they say “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” This is especially true for medical practices. You can make a great first impression before a new patient ever shows up for their appointment. Here are some helpful tips that add quality to your services from the very start:
- Have a warm, friendly scheduling receptionist confirm their appointment and facilitate check-in paperwork and insurance verification in advance.
- Provide clear driving directions to your practice, including any common mistakes people make in finding it for the first time.
- Be sure your receptionist is also well versed with local public transportation routes and can provide route numbers and schedules.
- Easy to read, highly visible signage to ensure your patients are on time and not frustrated and/or confused upon arrival.
- Maintain an attractive and impeccably clean exterior with ample parking. Good landscaping and a bench or seating area out front is welcoming and inviting.
Transform Your “Waiting Room” into a “Reception Lounge”
People don’t enjoy waiting. We all know and understand when we arrive for an appointment that we will likely have to wait, but how great does it feel when you don’t? Minimizing waiting times is an essential part of providing a positive patient experience, but since wait times are often inevitable, a comfortable reception area can go a long way.
Ways to create a welcoming and relaxing reception area:
- Hire receptionists that like people and remember names. Have them greet your patients on a first-name basis.
- Plan the layout of your reception lounge to easily accommodate the flow of “traffic” and prevent patients from having to move out of each other’s way.
- Choose furniture that is both comfortable and attractive. Do not prioritize durability, which can appear uninviting and colder.
- Ideally, there are windows that bring in a lot of natural light. Sunshine makes us feel healthy.
- Select colors carefully but don’t play it too safe. In addition to comforting and inviting, the reception lounge shouldn’t be boring.
- For the same reason, hang interesting art and decor on the walls that will keep your patients passively entertained.
- Wi-Fi is an absolute must for a reception lounge. Many cell phone providers have coverage gaps.
- While distracting, televisions can actually create a divisive atmosphere and fill your lounge with offensive noise to those not watching. If you already have televisions in your reception lounge, consider using them to feature a slideshow of pleasant photos, such as travel locations or a travel channel on mute. Think vacation vibe.
- Ample reading materials are expected and appreciated.
- A children’s corner with some simple toys that are easy to disinfect, to entertain the little ones.
- Offer more refreshments than just water. Coffee, tea, or carbonated water are nice alternatives that add perceived value to the experience.
Post-Care and Follow-up for a Lasting Impression
At the end of every service provided, take time to ask every patient every time if they have any more questions. Then take the golden opportunity to leave one final lasting impression before they schedule their next appointment. Thank them by name and make certain there is nothing else they need. Work into your receptionist’s call routine a next-day check-in with every patient just to see how they are doing and if there are any questions they thought of since their exam or procedure. The extra half an hour will pay for itself in customer satisfaction and continued patronage.
If you have an email system for patient communications, send them an email within a few days after their appointment with a link for an easy way they can leave a review. Reviews are marketing gold.
Creating an exceptional experience for your patients will often result in referrals to friends and family, and in turn, grow your practice and increase revenue.
Let The Sullivan Management and Consulting Group Manage Your Patients’ Expectations
Click here to schedule an appointment to learn what else the Sullivan Management and Consulting Group can do for your practice, or give us a call at 832-323-3691 to discuss how we can give your patients a great experience, every visit.