You put a lot of effort in creating a welcoming waiting room and you make sure that your surgeons are all at the top of their game. But have you also done your best to make the scheduling process top-notch and smooth? When a patient has been recommended surgery, the obvious next step is to attempt to schedule that surgery immediately after the visit. You want your patients to finalize a surgery date as soon as possible and feel comfortable and safe about going under the knife.
The scheduler can play a key role in reassuring the patient and making them feel cared for. And if the patient feels confident, this increases the chances of them scheduling the surgery with a surgeon at your practice. Hopefully, it leads to a successful surgery experience, which in turn brings more patients through your door.
Here are five reasons why meeting face-to-face with patients can improve the rate of surgeries being scheduled at your practice and result in happier patients.
1. Provide patients with a clear plan of action
When the patient has just met with the doctor who recommended surgery, the last thing you want is for the patient to go home without having a clear plan of action. The patient is likely to feel overwhelmed with information, and could still be struggling to process the fact that they need to undergo an operation at all. If the patient leaves the practice without knowing what their next steps are, they are less likely to book their surgery with your practice.
When schedulers meet the patient face-to-face before leaving the building, it helps the patient clarify their next move and understand what to do next. Even if the scheduler just pencils in a tentative date, it makes the surgery more real to the patient and increases the likelihood that the patient will accept and move ahead.
2. Ensure paperwork doesn’t get lost in transit
A face-to-face meeting means that schedulers can go over all the details of the procedure directly with the patient. They will explain all the tests that need to be completed; how the insurance authorization process works, and other particulars leading up to the surgery. Patients will actually receive the necessary paperwork in their hands before leaving the building, and know what to expect moving forward.
3. Provide reassurance and comfort to patients
Undergoing surgery is stressful to patients. They can feel very anxious and may want the opportunity to talk about their fears and concerns. It’s important for someone to meet the patient in person to reassure them about the procedure, alleviate their anxieties, and answer any questions they may have. When schedulers take the time to talk with the patient face-to-face, they establish a connection that makes the patient feel valued by the surgeons’ staff as well. It shows that your clinic cares about the wellbeing of each of its patients.
Often, the patient will want to go home and discuss the surgery with their partner, children, or other loved ones before they’re ready to schedule a surgery date. Having talked through their worries about the surgery first makes it far more likely that the patient will come back to book their surgery with your practice.
4. Reduce phone tag
Allowing the patient to leave the office, and waiting a few days before calling to schedule the surgery has been shown to be far less effective. Sometimes, schedulers don’t even have the correct contact details for the patient! And even when staff do have the right number, days of phone tag can leave the patient feeling frustrated and annoyed, and can cause the surgery to be delayed unnecessarily, or never even occur.
5. Guard the patient’s privacy
It’s important to provide a welcoming and safe space for this face-to-face meeting to take place. Even the most advanced and state-of-the-art clinics often leave schedulers to talk with patients in a niche or open-plan cubicle, full of clutter and noise. This isn’t the kind of atmosphere that makes the patient feel safe, reassured, or comfortable sharing personal details.
Your patients should feel rest assured that they are in good hands. As such, schedulers need to meet patients in an office that is both inviting and private – in a space large enough to accommodate at least one additional family member or friend. Patients sometimes need to disclose important medical history information which could affect certain aspects of the surgery; if other people can hear them or see their paperwork, they might not be willing to give over these details. What’s more, schedulers could be violating HIPAA regulations by exchanging sensitive information in a place that is not fully private.
The long-term benefits
Ultimately, the patient is your customer. You want to do everything possible to make them comfortable and confident in your clinic in order to move forward and schedule their surgery. This means considering every step along their journey to ensure they feel safe and reassured. We all want our patients to have a positive medical experience from start to finish, since happier patients will always have a long-term ripple effect.