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5 easy ways to improve the patient experience in 2024

Did you know that 90% of patients want technology-driven care? Here are 5 ways to improve the patient experience in your practice.

Medical professional reads about creative ways to increase patient satisfaction

At a Glance

  • Improving the patient experience is crucial for independent medical practices to stay competitive in the era of rising healthcare costs and increasing competition from big tech companies entering the healthcare industry.
  • Patients expect a streamlined, convenient, consumer-like experience.
  • Independent practices can improve the patient experience by ensuring a professional online presence, offering online scheduling, and more. These conveniences match patient preferences.
  • Digitizing processes across the patient lifecycle reduces no-shows, improves office workflow, increases patient retention, and more.

Today, health consumer preferences are synonymous with an excellent patient experience that’s built on quality care, personalization, and convenience. 

For some, this means the ability to get a “real person” on the phone quickly, but for most, it means streamlined digital processes that make it easy to book appointments, request prescription refills, and confirm or cancel appointments online. 

One peer-reviewed study found that 90% of patients want technology-driven care, and our research shows almost 75% of patients would leave a practice if they have a poor experience. 

Let’s look closer at how to improve the patient experience and why it’s important for independent practices.

Patient Perspectives Report

Why is it important to improve the patient experience?

The rising cost of healthcare means one thing for patients: their premiums keep ticking higher. With healthcare continuing to climb, many patients choose high-deductible insurance plans to keep their monthly health insurance payments down. As patients shell out more for each visit, they expect a customer experience to match. 

Complicating things further is the changing landscape of the healthcare market. Big tech is expanding into the healthcare market. Amazon bought One Medical and Pillpack, and Alphabet (Google’s parent company) owns Senosis Health. We’ve seen the increase of consumer companies like Ro Health and Hers offering specific healthcare solutions. In addition, telehealth has exploded, fundamentally changing how we provide care. 

Independent practices must modernize or risk falling behind. ”

The fact is this: innovation and disruption have entered the healthcare industry and are here to stay. Independent practices must modernize or risk falling behind.

One of the best ways to do so is to provide a customer-like patient experience across the patient lifecycle.

How to improve the patient experience in 5 easy steps 

Below we look at 5 tips on how to improve the patient experience.  

1. Ensure a professional online presence

Your website will likely be your first point of contact with a prospective patient. Fortunately for private practices, this can help you gain a serious competitive edge. A clean, professional, modern, and helpful website that’s easy to find creates a great impression before the patient has even walked through the front door.

Websites should be easy to find, with up-to-date contact information and hours. You also want to refine your practice’s presence on listing websites, like Google, Facebook, Yelp, and other online marketplaces to ensure a consistent web presence. This makes it easy for patients to find you across the web and improve your search rankings. 

It's also vital to list the services you offer, answer FAQs, and enable online scheduling through the website. Make sure to provide photos of your practice, and share testimonials from other patients. 

2. Offer online scheduling

From ordering a ride to placing a coffee order, today’s life happens online. In order to remain relevant, practices must offer seamless 24/7 scheduling for in-person or telehealth appointments via online scheduling. According to a report by Tebra, nearly 3 out of 4 patients prefer to schedule online, and more nearly two-thirds are more likely to choose practices that offer online scheduling.

According to a report by Tebra, nearly 3 out of 4 patients prefer to schedule online, and more nearly two-thirds are more likely to choose practices that offer online scheduling. ”

No-shows are costly and over time can restrict your practice’s growth. Online appointments reduce no-shows and make it easier to fill last-minute cancellations. Online appointment self-service makes it convenient for patients to select times that work best for their schedule and gives patients easy access to same-day and next-day appointments.

Download the report

3. Put patients in control of communication

Waiting on hold to make an appointment, request prescription refills, or ask a question is frustrating and unnecessary. Patients want the freedom and control to handle these items on their own time. 

Independent practices must provide multiple ways of getting in touch if they want to compete in the new healthcare landscape. At a minimum, practices should make it possible to text, email, and send messages through a secure online portal, in addition to calling the office. 

Empowering patients to handle communication with their provider’s office on their own time results in a better patient experience and reduces the administrative burden for staff. Patients who may be more comfortable calling the practice, like an older demographic, benefit from reduced time on hold, while others can simply text or send a secure message. 

Additionally, providing various ways to get in touch makes your practice more accessible to those across a range of abilities. Make it easy to get in touch through various mediums to give patients options and convenience for a better patient experience.

4. Send automatic appointment reminders

Automated appointment reminders simplify the confirmation process for both the patient and the practice. Patients benefit from having one less thing to remember.

At the same time, practices experience reduced no-show rates with automatic reminders and remove the financial and administrative burden of having to call patients to confirm. Other patients benefit, too; with in-the-moment confirmation or cancellation, patients gain access to a wider selection of appointments as they free up in real-time. 

Tebra found that two-thirds of patients want text message reminders for upcoming appointments. ”

Tebra found that two-thirds of patients want text message reminders for upcoming appointments, and 59% would like text message reminders to book their next appointment. 

5. Make it easy to pay online 

Patients want an easy and convenient way to pay bills on their own time, keep track of medical expenses, and track progress on payments. Online payments are the de facto way to pay today, and practices must keep pace with these billing practices or risk losing patients to more modern practices. 

On the practice side, online billing has big benefits, too. Practices can eliminate the hassle of paper billing, receive payments more quickly, streamline the reimbursement process with insurance, and help the billing team keep track of patient payments. 

Key takeaways for patient satisfaction

Patients today expect a consumer-like level of customer service from their medical providers. 

Digitized processes that streamline the patient experience across the patient lifecycle are no longer a nice-to-have. The rising costs of healthcare coupled with the digital, on-demand world we live in today mean patients expect modern conveniences from their medical providers, like online scheduling, text message communication and reminders, and easy online payments. 

Independent practices that provide the digital infrastructure to improve the patient experience benefit from better patient retention and improved office workflow. 

Optimize Operations
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Written by

Ryan Yates, consultant, editor, and writer

Ryan Yates, BA, is a multi-hyphenate writer, editor, and consultant with roots in the queer media, personal well-being and health, and B2B worlds. They cultivate presence, embodiment, and connection and operate across contexts, channels, audiences, and deliverable types, and are interested in the way that independent practices can support enhanced patient care by bringing those sensibilities to every step of the patient journey. Ryan Yates has healthcare- and well-being-related bylines in USA Today, the Daily Beast, Nylon, Refinery29, and other publications. They have also been featured in the Economist’s 1834, Vice, and elsewhere.

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