Perhaps it’s the prevalence of the current tap and swipe mentality that makes us so fickle—or just a bad case of the grass is always greener—but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep patients loyal to one doctor or practice. Fortunately, there is plenty you can do to keep your patients happy and satisfied. Here are five tips that will keep patients coming back to your practice.
Don’t make patients wait weeks for an appointment
When people have an urgent question, peace of mind and reassurance is often more important than meeting with the most reputable doctor. While it’s gratifying to be a busy doctor with scores of patients lining up for an appointment; there’s nothing patients hate more than having to wait weeks for a consult. If an appointment is harder to score than a table at the best restaurant in town, patients are going to head over to a practice where the doctors are available without weeks or even months of waiting.
Keep an eye on the clock
Patients hate being left to languish in waiting room purgatory. While patients want a doctor who will give them all the time in the world, there’s only so many minutes allowed for each patient. With appointment times getting shorter and shorter and practices trying to squeeze in as many visits as possible, doctors inevitably go over their allotted time. This leaves patients kicking their heels in the waiting room and cursing whoever gets called in before them. The key is to balance the time allotted for each appointment without compromising on care. Perhaps scheduling just one less patient every day per doctor will help keep things on schedule and patients happier. Sticking to the clock as much as possible shows patients their time is just as valuable as the doctor’s and is a guaranteed way of keeping satisfaction high.
Mind your (bedside) manners
Don’t underestimate the power of good bedside manner from everyone in the practice, from the receptionist to the medical staff. Politeness, friendliness and above all, compassion, go a long way in keeping patients happy—no matter who they encounter. In fact, according to a study published in the Journal of Medical Practice Management, the nearly unanimous consensus in terms of impact on patient satisfaction, is that the waiting room experience trumps the exam room.
Be there every step of the way
One of the most daunting things for any patient about to embark on surgery or further treatment is a lack of knowledge about the process. To keep patients happy and satisfied, the surgeon needs to explain the whole process clearly and simply.
Patients need to know the surgeon will be with them every step of the way—especially immediately following a procedure. Doctors should welcome questions, explain why a particular course of action has been chosen and what the treatment involves. In order to manage patients’ expectations for post-op, surgeons should describe the recovery process, including any problems/symptoms the patient may encounter after surgery.
To make patients feel even more reassured, set up a hotline / communication app / online forum where they can voice their questions or concerns and receive real-time answers from a doctor or qualified medical professional. A little TLC goes a long long way, particularly during a time when patients feel most vulnerable.
Expand your horizons when it comes to accepting insurance companies
If you can no longer accept a particular type of insurance, even the most loyal patient will (reluctantly) move to a different healthcare provider who can. On the flip side, by accepting only a narrow selection of insurance companies, you are automatically cutting a large potential client base out of your practice. We know it’s not always easy to meet the demands of the insurance companies, and sometimes, it’s easier to call it a day. Just make sure you are not doing more damage to your practice in the long run.
As with any other industry, the customer must come first. And healthcare is no different. The patient is the customer, and every small detail affects their experience and impression of your surgical practice. Going that extra mile to make your patients feel important and taken care of will definitely increase the chances of patient retention.