Creating an exceptional customer experience should be a focus of any business, but it’s especially important for medical practices. Patients typically aren’t excited about going to the doctor or hospital. When seeking medical treatment, patients are often experiencing a range of emotions: fear, uncertainty, and pain just to name a few. In addition to providing the medical help patients need, physicians also need to provide a positive customer experience that helps mitigate patients’ negative feelings, builds trust, and strengthens the patient-physician partnership. A great patient experience has benefits for providers as well. Let’s look at some ways to create a great patient experience, the benefits for both patients and providers, and tools that can help you along the way.
Essentials of Exceptional Patient Experience
There are many elements of the patient experience that factor into patient satisfaction, whether it’s scheduling, knowledge and courtesy of the medical staff, quality of care, or a number of other factors. This can make prioritizing the patient experience a bit overwhelming. To simplify this daunting task, let’s focus on five key areas that affect the patient experience. We’ll call this the CARES approach: Collaboration, Attention, Reassurance, Environment, and Service.
One of the most important steps in creating an exceptional patient experience is collaborating with patients. Instead of posing as an authority figure, physicians should take a partnership approach with their patients, working together to address patients’ medical issues. This helps foster trust between patients and providers, which leads to better care and higher patient satisfaction.
Giving patients your full attention and listening to what they have to say shows that you are committed to collaborating with them and providing them with the best care. Listen to what patients have to say; you can learn 90% of what’s wrong by letting them speak for just 3 to 4 minutes without interruption.
As mentioned earlier, patients are often dealing with fear, anxiety, and uncertainty. By reassuring them that you are focusing on providing them with the best care and treatment possible, you can help mitigate these negative feelings. Be open and honest about medical issues and treatment options, but assure them that their health and comfort is your top priority.
The hospital or office environment can be just as important as the interactions between patients and staff. Be sure to provide a clean, comfortable environment that is sensitive to patients’ needs.
“Service” encompasses many aspects of a patient’s visit. This includes the care provided and whether it adequately addressed the patient’s needs, the courtesy and knowledge of staff, and the ease and efficiency of processes and procedures. From scheduling to examination to billing, providers should strive to provide great service.
Benefits of Improving Patient Experience
The benefits of providing an exceptional experience for patients are manifold. These benefits can be broken down into two main categories: benefits to patients and benefits to providers. Since the benefits to the patients themselves often lead to benefits for providers, let’s look at those first.
Improved Quality of Care
A natural benefit of a better patient experience is the improvements in care quality it takes to create that experience. When providers focus on improving the patient experience, quality of care is one of the first areas to be addressed. This leads to more accurate, effective, and efficient diagnosis and treatment.
More Time, Less Hassle
People’s time is important to them, and they don’t like wasting it on inefficient, outdated processes. By investing in technology and improving processes such as scheduling and billing, providers can save patients time and reduce their hassle.
Higher Trust and Assurance
A great experience at a medical facility can significantly increase a patient’s trust and assurance in the organization. Even if a patient receives bad news, an experience that fosters trust and assurance that the medical staff has the patient’s health as their top priority can help ease the diagnosis and increase the patient’s likelihood of returning to that provider.
These are just some of the benefits to patients that come with improving the patient experience. Now let’s look at how these patient-oriented benefits can lead to benefits for providers.
Better Reviews and Ratings
When customers, or in this case patients are satisfied, they are more likely to write positive reviews and leave higher ratings. High ratings and reviews that detail how a provider generated a positive experience for a patient can lead to more referrals and more revenue. Reviews, ratings, and testimonials can also be used in an organization’s marketing efforts to capture even more business.
Stronger Patient-Physician Partnership
The more satisfied a patient is with the experience a physician provides, the more willing the patient will be to collaborate with their physician to address their medical needs. When patients trust their providers, they are more open about the issues they’re facing. This strengthened partnership feeds into a consistently satisfying patient experience, keeping the cycle of benefits flowing.
Tools for Creating and Maintaining Exceptional Experience
Now that we’ve discussed the steps providers can take to create an exceptional patient experience and the benefits of doing so for both patients and providers, let’s look at two tools that can help create a great experience and maintain that experience time after time.
- Order Management Software – improves the medical ordering process and saves time by eliminating unnecessary back-and-forth.
- Clinical Decision Support Mechanism (qCDSM) – assists providers in determining the right procedures or examinations through the communication of Appropriate Use Criteria (AUC).
Fortunately, there’s a solution that combines both of these tools: iOrder order management software with integrated qCDSM. iOrder’s order management capabilities eliminate the need to fax orders. iOrder also allows for customizable field requirements that ensure all necessary patient and order information is entered before the order can be submitted, resulting in virtually a 100% reduction in back-and-forth calls between facilities and departments. iOrder’s integrated qCDSM helps providers order the most appropriat exams the first time, maximizing reimbursements and speeding patient throughput. Plus, iOrder is interoperable with any referring physician’s EHR.
As you set out on your journey to create an exceptional patient experience that will help improve the quality of care you provide your patients and in turn grow referrals and revenue, be sure you’re equipped with the right tools. Be sure to maintain a consistently great experience to keep your patients satisfied. And above all, remember: happy patients equal happy providers.