February 21, 2012

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February 21, 2012

Surveying Your Patients’ Satisfaction

Patients often judge quality based upon what they see and how they are made to feel. And with 25% of patients leaving the typical practice every year, doctors need to survey their satisfaction regularly, set a vision for customer service excellence and train every member of the office team to it…

How do your patients really feel about you?

This is vitally important – not only to help you maintain your patient visit count, but also because social media will share and spread the word about any failures (real or perceived) loudly and clearly. With new healthcare reform (the PPACA’s Medicare stipulations) requirements seeking to link physician satisfaction scores to reimbursement by 2015, the time to craft a protocol and get your whole office team in line is now.

Do you connect with your patients?

Physicians need to truly listen and to let their patients know they are listening. That often means moving beyond the clinical and speaking only in lay terms. It means explaining treatment options in terms patients can understand and giving them the time they need to speak about their concerns. Patients don’t often present their main concern until their doctor says, “ok, and what else is going on”? A doctor should be a human being first and a doctor second in all patient interactions.

Do you respect your patient’s time?

Late-running offices are routinely cited as reasons for leaving a practice. Some doctors are now actually paying patients for these delays. Though we do not recommend it, it’s important to note the trend. Instead, we recommend that you do not overbook appointments. That requires you to assess your appointments and help your front desk schedule the appropriate amount of time for each. Importantly, if you are running late, your office needs to develop and automate systems for outbound calling or texting patients on early notice. Patients will understand, feel appreciated and forgive the occasional wait if they feel respected.

Do you and your staff create a superlative patient experience?

The patient experience starts before you even know they know you. Patients will judge you at every interaction. This often begins with your website or an ad or some other first awareness of you. It continues with the first contact – maybe a phone call that is too often answered by a harried insurance biller who sees it as an interruption of her busy day, instead of the source of her paycheck.

The caller, another human being who simply needs help with a health issue, will judge your practice by the nature of that contact. After the call, what happens next will also be judged. Will a helpful, confidence-inspiring communication be sent to the potential new patient? Will an appointment be set? Will this result in a visit? If so, how will the patient be greeted at the first encounter?

How will the new patient perceive a messy reception area? Or that staff member who hides behind the window and does not look up? Questions such as these should be considered all the way through to the actual doctor visit. The visit itself should also be exemplary. Your patient should feel that you really care because you spent quality time with them and patiently answered their questions. The patient should feel like a VIP from the first interaction until their final treatment.

Do you have a vision for your practice?

Health practices should know what they stand for. They should have a vision of the type of care they want to provide and the manner in which they provide it. This becomes your brand, so to speak. Your brand is much more than your website or a brochure. It’s what you believe in and how you want to be perceived by patients. Once a patient perceives truth in your brand, they will be more inclined toward loyalty. Additionally, sharing your training, education, specialized services and experience with your patients will inspire their confidence and trust. And it will help improve the patient’s perception of your care.

Do you survey satisfaction regularly?

Conduct routine surveys either on your own or through a third party who offers this service and automates it for you. The third-party should conduct “mystery shopping” to objectively measure staff performance and then train your staff to improvements. They should conduct onsite staff training and help you create reward systems for staff members who interact with patients.

Remember, what gets measured – and rewarded – gets managed. It’s far less costly to keep the patients you have than it is to constantly be looking for new ones to fill your schedule. That may seem obvious, but far too many physicians still lose patients without ever knowing why. Keeping your practice full depends largely on patients being satisfied with the care and service they receive. Understanding why patients may seek care elsewhere is the first step toward reducing attrition and making your practice sustainable and profitable.

For more information about staff training, mystery shopping and automated patient acquisition/satisfaction and ROI tracking systems, call Practice Builders at 800.679.1262.

How Fast Do You Respond to Patient Inquiries?

Improving your patient conversion rate from first contact is essential to expanding your patient base and keeping your practice solvent, especially if you are web-based. Seconds and minutes matter when responding to online patient inquiries (and phone inquiries). So how do you help your staff respond more quickly, more professionally to dramatically increase your inquiry conversion rate?

According to recent marketing surveys, the typical medical practice loses up to 90% of its new patient inquiries simply by not responding within 20 minutes of online contact or not responding at all. Online response rates drop precipitously after 20 minutes. Most healthcare practices would also be astonished to learn exactly how much revenue they lose every year due to poor staff phone skills. While the average is about $50,000 annually, many larger, busier practices may be losing $200,000 or more annually. That’s money they could be earning if only they had professional phone skills training and a few protocols in place for handling online inquiries quickly, efficiently and effectively.

The bigger and busier your office, the worse this problem can be. And most clinicians have only a vague idea of what is really happening with their web inquiries and their phones when potential new patients or new referral sources contact their office.

How much is it costing your practice?

Let’s say you lose just one patient per day due to poor phone skills and slow online responses. Let’s assume that your average new patient is worth $1,000. At one lost patient per day, you are losing roughly $20,000 per month and $240,000 in lost revenue every year! The secret to avoiding such losses is to train your staff and install systems that automate the patient inquiry and patient satisfaction processes for you. With the right “customer service excellence” training program, your staff can become expert at attracting new patients to your practice and keeping them.

Today, there are even systems that provide you with automated response time measurement tracking features. They give you the ability to track how long it takes to call each inquiry, notify your staff about each inquiry via email or text message and the ability to contact those potential new patients quickly and double, triple or quadruple your patient conversion rates.

To learn more about improving and automating patient inquiry, conversion rates and response times, call 800.679.1262 today and speak to a Practice Builders consultant.

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