The doctor-patient relationship is an essential component of the patient’s health plan. Doctors need vital information from their patients, like medical and family history, to create an effective treatment plan. Likewise, patients need to feel like they can trust their doctors and have a genuine interest in working together to improve their health.
If you’re trying to establish a thriving practice, the success of the business centers around patient satisfaction. It can be challenging to meet all the expectations of every patient. But the goal is to have a positive consensus so that patients feel their concerns are heard and are inspired to live healthier lives. Here are five ways to boost patient satisfaction and maintain a successful private practice.
First Impressions Are Everything
Your patients’ first impression of your practice will determine if they continue to come to your office. The front-line staff has an essential role in the patient’s first impression. They should be well-trained in customer service and conflict resolution. Patients should receive a warm greeting and feel welcome as soon as they enter the door. But the patient’s impression of your office starts long before they walk inside the building.
The process of scheduling appointments and checking in can affect how the patient views your team. To make things easier, you can use technology to streamline the process. Many offices have invested in kiosks that allow patients to check in electronically. Electronic medical records have also made it possible to complete questionnaires and check in for appointments up to a week before the visit.
You can also utilize systems that allow patients to confirm or cancel an appointment via text message for added convenience. Once the patient has scheduled an appointment and arrives at the office, appearances can make or break their impression of your practice.
You should promote a clean and professional atmosphere, with staff in uniform or business casual dress. You should also have a clean and comfortable waiting area. Small additions like charging stations or a coffee cart can also help set a welcoming environment.
Respect Their Time
One of the most common complaints from patients about going to the doctor is the long wait times. Although some scheduling issues are unavoidable, patients are more likely to be loyal to your practice and trust you as a healthcare provider if they feel respected. One way to demonstrate that respect is by eliminating long wait times.
You should always make an effort to see patients at their appointed times. Some patients have even reported wait times of one to two hours! It may be hard to stick to a schedule and give each patient the time they need, but if you can be punctual, you will have happy patients.
Keep Open Communication
Another common complaint from patients is the lack of communication from some doctor’s offices. Patients should be encouraged to ask questions and update their doctor on any changes in their symptoms, medications, or family history. They may also need to contact the office to update their demographic or insurance information if they can’t do it electronically.
Investing in communication services like patient portals where the patient can chat electronically with their health team can drastically improve patient satisfaction. Not only are patients able to keep up with their treatment plan, but family members who serve as care partners can also easily keep up with appointments.
You can also ensure that patients can reach your office after business hours by using a 24/7 answering service. Your medical assistants should be allotted time to return patients’ phone calls and answer messages promptly. Keeping the line of communication open will enhance the patient experience as you work to proved high-quality care.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has established the No Surprises Act to protect patients from surprise bills and promote transparency in pricing for services. Your staff should be aware of the details of CMS’s requirements so they can follow protocols that ensure compliance.
Whether you accept Medicare and Medicaid payments or not, patients will respect and appreciate your office more if you are clear about what they owe and if billing is done correctly. It’s good practice to give patients an estimate at the time they schedule an appointment so they know what to expect.
Your patients will also feel more comfortable sharing necessary information about themselves and valuable feedback about your office if you encourage it often. For most offices, this encouragement is in the form of a patient survey that’s sent out after an appointment.
But you can also solicit feedback in a more personal way using phone calls or asking the patient directly. Once you receive feedback, whether positive or negative, you should address it as soon as possible and incorporate any suggestions into the flow of your practice.
The doctor-patient relationship is an essential component of a patient’s treatment plan. Building this relationship can be tricky for both parties as healthcare providers face staffing shortages and scheduling conflicts. But you can boost your patient satisfaction rates by promoting a good first impression, respecting your patients’ time, and having open communication. You should also be transparent in your charges for services and encourage feedback to improve your practice in ways that matter.