As we all know, first impressions are crucial. When a current or potential patient steps foot in your practice, they are already forming opinions. Is the front desk staff personable, confident, and helpful? Is the waiting room comfortable and clean? You want to ensure that your practice is professionally presented, putting your patient's needs and wants first while also creating a space where they feel at ease and welcomed. Away from the brick-and-mortar, you'll also want to maintain an excellent online presence and build a sense of community surrounding your practice. Overall, providing outstanding patient care and experience is crucial in running, operating, and owning a successful healthcare practice. There are numerous ways to make your medical practice more welcoming to patients; here are a few methods that are easy to implement.
1. Office appearance and ambiance - Going to the doctor can be nerve-wracking for many patients, and ensuring they are as comfortable as possible will help them make the most of their appointment and help set the tone for their visit. Providing comfortable seating, easy navigation from the front door to the front desk (restrooms, exam rooms, etc.), and incorporating soft lighting all assist in creating a pleasant environment. In addition, take into account the sounds your patients hear while waiting for their appointment or treatment. Play music that appeals to the masses and softens echoes with noise-absorbing furniture, non-slip rugs/carpet, and wall art. Be sure to accommodate your target patients and visitors; for example, a pediatric practice with glass tables and heavy floor lamps simply doesn't make sense. Take a seat in your waiting room, observe your front desk staff, and think outside the box when putting your best foot forward and creating a comfortable, safe space within your practice. If you don't feel welcome in your practice, how can you expect your patients to feel welcome too?
2. Embrace technology - Does your practice allow online scheduling and reminder texts/emails? Both are hugely advantageous regarding patient retention, communication, and engagement. Allowing online scheduling helps free up your administrative staff by not having to play games of phone tag, dealing with rescheduled appointments, and handling patient cancellations. Another benefit: You'll allow new patients to book around the clock. In a world of instant gratification, many prospective patients don't want to wait and may choose another provider who offers online scheduling if they have to hold off on booking. Your practice management and patient engagement software suite should be equipped for online scheduling, email and/or SMS message communication, and the ability to check in or reschedule appointments.
3. Digital presence and personality - Social media and online presence are an absolute must in today's digital climate. Allowing potential patients to find and communicate with you online easily is a great way to encourage and increase patient engagement, build a positive reputation, and focus on retention. Make sure that you share a variety of content full of relevant information, quality photos, patient testimonials, and encouraging reviews. Don't be afraid to showcase your outstanding personalities! Connecting with people on a personal level and building relationships within your community will prove to be incredibly beneficial.
4. Offer telemedicine services - Telemedicine is an easy and secure way for providers to visit their patients without patients ever leaving the comfort of their homes. Telemedicine offers a virtual appointment with your patients through a private video conference on their smartphone, tablet, or PC. Many healthcare technology programs, like TriMed Complete Software Suite, include HIPAA-compliant telemedicine platforms to diagnose, discuss treatment plans, and prescribe necessary medications. By offering telemedicine services, practices that cater to the younger generation can enhance their healthcare experience.
5. Showcase and support your staff - Don't be afraid to bring a little life into your practice and shine a spotlight on those who are, quite literally, the faces of your practice. These are the people on the front lines, coming in contact with your patients daily. Customer service and patient interaction are tremendous in your practice's success. Nothing spreads faster than a negative experience via word of mouth, especially for those who work at or own practices in small towns. Even the best employees may hit roadblocks without proper support. Encourage training and career growth and help boost team morale with incentives, ongoing education opportunities, and the potential for advancement.
Sometimes looking at all the little things that make up the big picture is crucial for the success of your healthcare practice. Think outside the box, focus on simplifying procedures for your staff and your patients, and remember that first impressions form lasting opinions.