The challenges of today’s medical landscape and the pressures of your daily schedule can make it difficult to prioritize the little things that make patients happiest, but patient satisfaction is the cornerstone of a thriving practice. Making a positive difference in the patient experience doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are five easy ways to instantly increase patient happiness.
1. Make your practice a pleasant place to be
Waiting rooms see a large volume of traffic and it’s easy for things to start to look a bit frayed around the edges. Regularly investing a little time and money can go a long way towards creating a welcoming, pleasant atmosphere. A well-kept fish tank or a few healthy green plants add interest and a sense of warmth. Is the seating comfortable and are there enough chairs for everyone? Are your magazines and reading materials new and attractive? Have you provided entertainment for children? Is there easy access to a water cooler? What about antibacterial hand gel? Small details mean a lot when you’re not feeling well.
2. Try to keep wait times as short as possible
Even the nicest waiting room becomes tedious when patients’ eyes are on the clock. It’s easier said than done, but there are practical steps you can take to help. Don’t overbook. Invest in a good scheduling system which will alert your staff when you run behind, allowing them to communicate with patients to let them know what’s going on, and how long they can expect to wait. If possible, call ahead to give patients the option of coming in later.
3. Ensure that every interaction with staff (and with you!) is positive
A kind smile and attentive care should be guaranteed. You can help by making sure you have enough staff: let your receptionist focus on patients instead of extra paperwork. No matter how rushed you feel, take an extra minute to look over each patient’s chart before you enter the exam room. Patients feel known and reassured when you can address them immediately without needing to refer to paperwork in front of them. Good eye contact builds rapport and confidence — and a little bit of small talk goes a long way, too.
4. Empower them
Help your patients become active agents in their own healthcare. Give them a written summary of their visit and relevant instructions to take home. Offer them trusted educational materials and resources. Encourage them to keep an updated list of all medications and conditions to help them coordinate their care between your office and any specialists. Inspire them to look into holistic approaches to health: nutrition, exercise and meditation. If they are dealing with a chronic illness or a major life change, connect them with community and support groups. Treating your patients as peers and partners lets them know that they are respected and valued and helps them leave each appointment feeling confident.
5. Keep in contact
Following up with patients is extremely important and has a powerful impact on how your patients view your practice. Taking the time to call a patient after they’ve been exhibiting significant symptoms, or speaking with them after they’ve had lab work or were referred to a specialist is hugely reassuring and builds a trusting relationship. Send reminder postcards for check-ups, as well as information about vaccination clinics or seasonal health concerns. Patients will know you’re thinking about them, and feel that you are personally invested in their health. Happy patients are loyal patients, and loyal patients refer friends. Finding ways to enhance the patient experience is good for their health and the health of your growing practice.
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