There is a shift happening in the health care revenue cycle, and it is your patients who are taking on more financial responsibility. Due to the utilization of high deductible and copay health insurance plans, patient payments are now accounting for about 30 percent of healthcare revenue on the back end. With so much financial burden on the patient, medical practices are striving to provide a higher level of service to keep patients satisfied. Patients want to feel valued and taken care of by their medical providers, especially when they feel the immediate hit to their pocket book. While financial pressure is a difficult hurdle to jump when measuring patient satisfaction, there are many things that you, as a health care provider, can do to stand out from the crowd and give your patients a service that they are willing and even happy to pay for.
- Timely Appointments: Patients know if you value their time based on your ability to respect their appointment time. You are already under strict time constraints when seeing many patients throughout the day, so don’t cut their appointment short before it has even started. If there simply aren’t enough hours in the day, lessen your daily patient load and focus on providing top notch service. It will pay off in dividends and almost immediately.
- Friendly Staff: Train your staff not only on how to use the system efficiently and office procedures, but also on how to provide the friendly patient focused environment that you are creating. This goes beyond the obvious smiling and friendly demeanor. Tell them to talk to the patients and get to know them as people. For example, take a moment to know the name of your next patient scheduled to walk through the door, and try to remember any pertinent or simply conversational details from previous conversations. (I.e. How was the family reunion that you were leaving for last time I saw you?) While there is always more office work to be done, let your staff know that when a patient is sitting in front of them, the paper work can be put on hold and its time to interact.
- Get to know your patients/Active Listening: You need to adopt the same active listening skills as your wonderful staff. While your patients are visiting you for a reason and you need to provide a medical service first and foremost, don’t be afraid to let down the provider wall and get to know them. It won’t take much to make them feel like an important patient to your practice, and they will appreciate the more laidback atmosphere rather than the “sterile hospital” vibe that they are used to.
- Ongoing Education: Revamp your website to include FAQ’s and a blog that provides ongoing education for your patients. For example, if you have a physical therapy practice, post free information about exercises to strengthen your core or at home exercises to improve your flexibility. Whatever piece of information you can offer your patients will be appreciated and make your practice stand out.
- The Little Extras: It is often “the little extras” that people talk about when referring you to their friends and family. Offer each patient and their guests a refreshment when they arrive, keep a bowl of snacks or candy stocked, get to know what kind of music they prefer and pop in their Pandora station before they arrive, and warm up your space with family photos. Make these extras unique to your office, and understand that while they may seem insignificant, these details are what set you apart.
Doing your part to improve patient satisfaction will help curb the complaints and disputes when your patients get the bill that they previously may have never seen. While some people are more dollars and cents focused, they won’t be able to deny that they received a superior level of service and will keep coming back to see you.