Competition in healthcare is very real. Today’s doctors and providers (including dermatologists) are often challenged to “win” the satisfaction of patients by creating better patient experiences than competitors in order to build patient loyalty.
That can mean different things for different practices, but there are some specific factors that many patients look for in their healthcare providers. Patients look for skilled and trustworthy providers, who truly listen to their concerns. From a convenience perspective, patients also tend to seek out practices that use digital tools for educating and managing the patient experience.
What that means for your practice may depend on your processes and how your team is organized. But there are a few ways to discover where opportunities to improve your patient experiences may exist.
Patient satisfaction surveys: Implementing a post-appointment patient satisfaction survey process will help you learn a lot about how your patients are perceiving your care. This also shows your patients that their feedback is important and allows you to address patient concerns. Many practices also implement patient feedback and overall recommendation scores into their marketing plans. You can view a full list of survey vendors here.
Check-out feedback: A simple but effective strategy for getting helpful feedback is to ask patients about their visit during the check-out process. Your front desk staff can then collect and organize that information for periodic review. In some cases, this can help you address a patient concern or issue right on the spot.
Follow-up conversations: Rather than asking for feedback during the check-out process, you can also ask for feedback informally during the patient’s next visit. In a more relaxed conversational setting, you may get insights otherwise not available—which can make this an additional and valuable tool with those patients who are at ease with you.
Advancing the Patient Experiences in Your Practice
Once you have gathered patient feedback, you can use it to identify opportunities for improvement. When building action items from that feedback, consider these tips.
Focus on timeliness. One of the most frequent complaints about medical care providers is delayed appointment times or long waits for appointments. Reducing those wait times can help improve the patient experience, and when patients are forced to wait, there are choices you can make that may help reduce the unpleasantness of such experiences, whether that’s strategies as large as reduced visit costs for wait times or as small as good reading materials in the waiting room.
Focus on your team’s customer service. This may go back to your mission and value statements, but patients who feel engaged by the team members are less likely to have an unpleasant or unfavorable experience, and as the quality of that engagement improves, so does the average patient experience in your practice.
Ensure your support team members are knowledgeable. The more your RNs, PAs and APPs know, the better they are able to satisfactorily hear patient concerns and answer their questions.
Find places where you can improve the quality of your own care. Personal development is always a good idea when it comes to improving your dermatology practice, and that’s true when it comes to the patient experience, too. Consider where workshops or training might help make you a better care provider.
Building a Patient Experience Program
Another strategy that has proven effective for many dermatology practices is the addition of a specific patient experience program as part of their practice. Many good patient experience programs focus not only on ensuring all team members are united in care goals and ensuring patient satisfaction but also in setting clear benchmarks for measuring program success, for example:
- Assessing current level of patient satisfaction.
- Defining your preferred and perfect outcome.
- Getting stakeholders to engage in experience design.
- Developing and implementing your preferred patient experience strategy.
- Analyzing feedback and determine the impact.
- Recognizing accomplishments and improving over time.
Your own patient experience program may differ, but the basic principles should likely remain the same. Regardless of what strategies you choose to explore, if you’re focused on improving patient experience in your dermatology practice, you’re well on your way to helping your practice grow and advance.
And as always, if you are looking for a partner to help you advance your patient experiences, we are here to help. Schedule a consultation with one of our practice management experts today!