Whether you run a dental practice, veterinary clinic, medical practice or specialist surgery, there’s one thing that you will always have on your mind; the welfare of your patients. We aren’t just talking about how you can improve their health, but the experience they have when they visit your clinic.
First impressions mean so much in the medical industry, especially when you are working with people who are ill and sometimes going through an emotionally difficult time. There are certain things that patients value when choosing a doctor, dentist, vet or specialist. Surprisingly, these can be little things that are relatively easy to achieve and will have your patients feeling more comfortable, relaxed and reassured. We take a closer look at a few trends which have emerged of late, relating to patient experiences in the waiting room, surgery and in the chair.
Better communication regarding waiting periods
This isn’t a groundbreaking new fad. Patients have wanted to reduce how long they spend waiting past their scheduled appointment since the dawn of time. Unfortunately, it isn’t a matter of clicking your fingers and getting everything back up to speed; so many outside factors depend on whether your practice is running on time. A study carried out by the Australian Bureau of Statistics has, however, found that:
“The proportion of people waiting longer than they felt acceptable for a GP appointment has decreased from 23% in 2013-14 to 18% in 2016-17.”
While this is a positive finding, you may still come across disgruntled patients annoyed at sitting uninformed for an extra quarter of an hour. There are ways to mitigate these complaints though. And it involves having an accommodating waiting room, and openly communicative desk staff.
Telling a patient that the doctor will be “just another five minutes” every time they ask how much longer they need to wait, is a surefire way of losing clientele. Being honest and upfront is the best policy. Continually check in with patients in the waiting room to let them know how their doctor is travelling. Doing this without them having to ask will reiterate that you haven’t forgotten about them, that you do value their time, and that you’re doing the best you can. Your patients want to feel valued, and by personally keeping them updated on the status of their appointment, they are less likely to be unhappy about unscheduled waiting periods.
A higher standard of care that reflects money spent
When patients are paying top dollar to visit your clinic, they expect you to deliver the goods. Good service, increased convenience, tranquil decor, superior communication and unbeatable benefits. Mothers expect waiting rooms to include children’s play areas. Business executives expect to be given the wifi password upon arrival so they can continue to work while they wait for their appointment. Pet owners expect not to be hit with a wall of bad dog breath as soon as they enter the veterinary clinic. Everyone expects there to be a water cooler!
It’s vital that you give your patients incentives to return. This should be reflected in the welcoming space you create in your practice, and through monthly specials, offers and discounts for repeat customers. Patients want to see that you are going above and beyond to take care of them and carefully consider their needs. Anything from a Nespresso machine in the waiting room, to comfortable armchairs to relax in, or fresh, modern decor, will show your patients that they’ve chosen the right practice.
Up-to-date digital healthcare experiences
If you’re still living in a world of fax machines and written referrals, it’s time to pick up your game. Advancements in technology in the medical arena are forever expanding, including the administrative side of things. Moving the process of booking or adjusting appointments online is often much more convenient for many patients than picking up a phone. Likewise, integrating with private health fund apps where patients can easily lodge claims, or using an on the spot claims service such as HICAPS, will vastly improve the efficiency of your service. Did you know that some GP’s even offer late night video chat appointments over the internet, for patients requiring a new prescription?
According to the ABS’s study of patient experiences in Australia:
“Among those who saw three or more health professionals for the same condition, 12% reported that there were issues caused by a lack of communication between the health professionals.”
This miscommunication can so easily be avoided by adopting online systems that support the quick transferral of patient information. Dental practices can now use intraoral digital sensors to take x-rays of patient’s teeth, which upload to a laptop in a matter of seconds. Patient x-rays can be sent directly to other specialists via email, instantaneously. Embracing technology is critical to the success of any medical practice! It makes referrals a breeze, enhances the experience of your patients, and allows your clinic to run far more efficiently.
Dentifit specialises in designing and constructing fit-outs for dental and medical premises. We create soothing, modern waiting rooms and practical, space-efficient workspaces, specifically designed to improve your patient’s experience. Contact us today for more information!