Enhancing the Patient Experience

Do you know how your patients view your medical practice? Is there room for improving the patient experience at your medical practice?   Have you ‘walked in the shoes’ of your patients? What are your expectations when you are the patient? How easy, or difficult, is the patient experience from their initial phone call to your office to make an appointment, to arriving at the office for their appointment. Satisfied patients may improve your staff’s satisfaction.

Consider a ‘mystery shopper (or patient)’ to experience the same processes your patients go through. Or, perhaps a colleague from another practice and you could ‘test’ each other’s patient experience.

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The first impression the patient has with your staff is calling to schedule an appointment. Are the phones answered ‘live’ by a staff member, or is the call answered by a ‘menu’ directing them to press a specific number for service? What is the age of most of your patients? As an example, older patients may be frustrated with ‘menu’ methods, and a ‘live’ answering method may work best for your practice.

This step is the beginning of the revenue cycle, and the information obtained is important to ensure proper claims processing and payment. What questions does your staff member ask the patient? Is the staff member familiar with the various insurance plans the medical practice participates with? Can the staff member answer basic questions, such as, does your physician participate with my insurance plan or is the service covered by my insurance?

Does your staff member direct the patient to the medical practice’s website to download new patient forms, or is there a process to mail the forms in advance for the older patient who may not be familiar with the Internet? Does the staff member verify the date and time of the appointment? Does your staff member ask the patient if they know where the office is located, or do they skip this important step?

When the patient arrives for their appointment, are they greeted by a friendly staff member who is eager to assist them, or does the staff member avoid making eye contact and ask a barrage of questions? Does your waiting room have current, appropriate magazines, or are the magazines from six months ago? Do you have adequate, comfortable seating, and the correct type of seating? Do you know how much weight the various chairs can hold?

The practice manager should conduct regular staff meetings to review the leadership’s expectations regarding customer service. The practice manager should ensure the front desk staff is responsible for the magazines being current in the waiting room and keeping the area tidy.

Is the physician’s schedule running on time? What time does the physician arrive at the office for their first patient of the day? If the first appointment is 8:00am, is the physician physically present in the office at that time to see the patient? If not, does a staff member keep the patients in the waiting room (or exam room) updated on delays? If the patient cannot wait to be seen, is the patient offered to reschedule their appointment?

Practice managers should regularly walk through the clinic to ensure the appointments are running on time, talk with the staff regarding delays, and ensure the patients are kept informed of delays. Practice managers should address patient concerns immediately to ensure the patient’s concerns are resolved before they leave the office.

Concordis Practice Management, LLC can assist you with evaluating your patient experience as the ‘mystery shopper (patient)’, or conduct an operational assessment of your entire clinic process. Contact us today at 210-704-1014 to schedule a consultation.

 

References:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/micahsolomon/2015/01/11/8-ways-to-improve-patient-satisfaction-and-patient-experience-and-by-the-way-improve-hcahps-scores/#3d3153243c6e

https://rrs.cnr.ncsu.edu/pdfs/CSHandout%20-%20Dozen%20Practices.pdf

http://www.physicianspractice.com/blog/medical-practice-customer-service-heart

http://www.clevelandclinic.org/collective/internationalDayPdf/1115Miller-EnhancingthePatientExperience.pdf

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