The patient experience encompasses every encounter a patient has with your practice that results in a positive or negative point-of-view.
When your patients have a negative experience at your practice or with your team, there can be harmful consequences that stunt the growth of your practice. These consequences include a shrinking patient volume, a decrease in patient engagement, and a hard hit to your revenue. Providers must provide a positive patient experience in order to prevent these occurrences. Positive patient experience leads to new patients walking through your door, improved health outcomes, improved patient compliance, and more timely patient payments.
Improve Communication, Improve the Patient Experience
By improving communication at their practice, providers increase the likelihood that their patients will ask important questions, they reduce no-show appointments, and catch alarming red flags before it’s too late. Open communication is established in the following ways:
1) Quality Patient Portal
The patient portal offers patients a simple and convenient solution to ask their providers questions. Bypassing hold times over the phone and the inconvenience of an in-person appointment, patients can jump on their patient portal to message their physician directly. The messaging system found in a quality patient portal acts as a filter to help patients determine if they need to come into the office in person or if there is a simpler solution for their question. This time-saving, convenient communication alternative is absolutely necessary to improve the patient experience.
Text, email, and phone call reminders are a great way to improve the patient experience. The most common reason a patient fails to attend their appointment is a forgetful mind. This can be just as frustrating for the patient as it is for the provider. If your practice has fees for late/no-show patients, the patient now has a bill to pay for services they never received, which can lead to them not wanting to return. Text and phone reminders improve the patient experience by helping patients stay on top of their personal care, remember annual labs/tests, and avoid unwanted fees.
Make the Patient Experience Personal
Patients express having a more positive patient experience when they feel that their provider cares for them on a personal level. This means stepping outside of the fee-for-service mentality and engaging with your patients on a deeper level in order to improve the patient experience.
1) Offer Compassionate Service
Unwanted or unexpected medical services and costs can be taxing on the patient emotionally. Dealing with a possible new diagnosis or a large bill can leave a patient feeling overwhelmed, sometimes causing them to run in the other direction. By offering compassionate service and ensuring your patient feels safe at your practice, providers can increase the likelihood a patient will remain engaged with their care even when these unexpected circumstances arrive. This includes staying compliant with their treatment plan and staying on top of their medical bills. Compassionate service should include using your medical billing and practice management software to offer your patients manageable options to make payments.
2) Stay in the Loop
Through email or mail communication, your practice should engage their patients further than just their treatment plans and bills. Providers can improve the patient experience by engaging their patients on birthdays, holidays or even when that patient has experienced a loss in their life. This personal touch ensures your patients feel that their provider cares for them on a deeper level than just charging them for medical care.
Introduce New Tools/Services
In 2020, patients are searching for providers that offer certain services and conveniences that their previous or current providers do not. In order to protect the patient experience, providers should adapt to the times and adopt certain services and software that encourage engagement.
Telehealth encourages a positive patient experience by giving patients more options. With options that make sense to them, patients are more likely to engage in new services, follow-up care, and developing treatment plans. With telehealth, patients can more easily visit with their provider amidst their busy lives, making them more likely to stay connected.
2) Outsource RCM
Outsourcing RCM services is a great step for providers whose billing departments are stretched thin. Outsourcing RCM services can help providers empower positive patient experiences in multiple ways. With a dedicated billing staff, your RCM vendor can ensure your patients are being given a compassionate and engaging patient experience while collecting on difficult payments and collecting more frequent in-full payments.
To learn more about what tools can help you improve the patient experience, click here.