Attracting new patients to your practice is one thing. Keeping current patients happy? That’s another matter entirely.
Improving patient satisfaction is a top priority for most physicians and independent healthcare practices. And patient satisfaction can impact your practice in a big way. For starters, losing patients means losing revenue. Plus, an average of 60% of patients leave online reviews of their healthcare providers. Since a substantial number of patients check out online reviews before making a care decision, patient satisfaction is an important part of reputation management.
When focusing on patient satisfaction, the temptation to splurge on patient-facing technologies and luxurious office amenities is always there. But first, consider making a few upgrades that will benefit your staff. A well-supported, empowered staff can have a big impact on patient satisfaction. When your team is cheerful, prompt, and professional, patients are more likely to have a positive experience. When they’re brusque, dismissive, or visibly overwhelmed, patients could leave dissatisfied — and possibly never return.
Read on for tips on how you can empower staff as well as technologies you can implement to make your staff’s lives easier, with greater patient satisfaction as a result.
Why empowering your staff boosts patient satisfaction
Employee engagement is difficult in any industry. Factor in the stress of working in the medical or dental industry, and the dire need for empowering and engaging your staff is paramount.
A happy worker is a productive worker. Engaged workers are 14% more productive than their non-engaged counterparts, according to Gallup. Similarly, a happy, engaged staff will result in a better experience for patients.
Physician burnout, meet staff burnout
Burnout can negatively affect staff performance, resulting in an overall unsatisfactory experience for patients. It can also cause turnover, leaving you with the unwanted task of hiring and training new employees.
The L.E.A.D. approach for boosting staff satisfaction
Before diving into the many technologies that can boost patient satisfaction and empower your staff, it’s important to note the things you can accomplish without technology.
The L.E.A.D. approach can help ensure that you are hearing your staff, giving them the support they need, and together growing as a team. This process involves:
- Listening: Actively seek feedback from your staff to see what pain points they’re experiencing, where your office is lacking, and how you can better serve them. This can be done during weekly meetings or through anonymous surveys you send out monthly or quarterly.
- Encouragement: Encourage your administrative staff every chance you get, making it clear you recognize the value they bring to the office and to the team as a whole. This is also an opportune time to empower them to take on more responsibility and to push themselves, whether their challenges are to take on a new task or to practice leaving work at work to prevent burnout.
- Acknowledgement: Showing your appreciation can be as simple as a “thank you” and as complicated as an office-wide rewards or bonus system. The important thing is to make sure your team, individually and together, knows they’re appreciated — especially when they go above and beyond.
- Development: This involves fostering growth in both your team and its individuals. Provide paid opportunities for professional development and growth. Consistently reach out and make sure your team has support and resources to grow, learn, and further develop skills and career paths.
The above outline can help your team grow, stay happy, and operate more effectively. Most importantly, you’ll have staff members who enjoy their jobs and work environment more and better serve the patients who make it all possible.
7 technologies to empower staff and increase patient satisfaction
There are many technological advancements that can help reduce the burden on staff and prevent burnout. As an added bonus, these same technologies can create a better experience for your patients.
Embrace online appointment scheduling
Whether you use a standalone solution or one integrated with your electronic health record (EHR), online scheduling can benefit both patients and practices. The advantages to online scheduling include:
- Empower patients to schedule their own appointments when it suits them
- Free your staff to tackle other tasks and focus on more important matters
- Reduce phone volume
- Give prospects a better first impression, increasing the chances they become recurring patients
Implement automated appointment reminders
Automated appointment reminders tie in neatly with online scheduling. With automated appointment reminders, your patients receive email or text reminders of their upcoming appointments with no manual effort from your team.
Much like online scheduling, this removes a large volume of your staff’s outgoing calls, freeing them to focus on other tasks. This can also reduce no-shows and build your reputation as a transparent practice.
Request patient feedback
Sending digital, automated requests for patient feedback allows your practice to ask patients to complete a patient satisfaction survey or leave a public review after each visit when their appointment is still fresh. This provides several benefits such as:
- Increases the likelihood that your practice receives useful feedback and information you need to grow
- Prevents staff from having to personally ask patients if they’d like to provide feedback
- Gives you the opportunity to acknowledge disgruntled patients, make them feel heard, and address their concerns
- Results in a better-operating practice, increasing the chances future patients have a better experience
Accumulating positive online reviews will help you stand out against competing practices when prospective patients discover you at the beginning of their patient journeys.
Patient communication campaigns
In a patient communication campaign, your office sends targeted messages to patients segmented by audience type according to their specific needs or interests. These messages can include:
- Information about new services your practice offers
- Education about a new health threat, available vaccination, or other public-health-related issues
- Reminders to book a visit or to schedule an annual vaccination booster
All of these things, though helpful to patients, help to keep your practice top of mind when they have health-related questions, concerns, or care needs. Patient communication campaigns imprint your brand and forge lasting relationships with your patients.
Patient communication campaigns also benefit your staff by helping them feel a stronger connection with patients. These campaigns are a great fit for those new to the practice and working at the front desk because they help the front office staff get to know your different audiences.
Offer a live chat feature
Retail sales sites aren’t the only place where a live chat feature should be offered on a website. Allowing visitors to talk to a qualified representative right on your website gives patients the opportunity to ask questions and can prevent issues from escalating.
A live chat option serves several purposes:
- Current patients can ask questions about scheduling, services, or inquire about a potential medical issue
- Prospective patients have the chance to inquire about insurance, wait times, vaccines offered, and so on
- Patients who have had a bad experience are able to speak with a member of your team, giving you the chance to stop a potentially bad review
Although non-medical companies can have customer service representatives handling online communications, your office should ensure qualified medical professionals respond to queries to provide accurate information.
Encourage online registration and check-in
Filling out check-in paperwork can be time-consuming for your patients. It also requires your front desk staff to handle any back-and-forth clarification and manually enter intake forms into your EHR.
Offering online check-in — or at least making intake forms available on your website before an appointment — allows your patients to provide any necessary information ahead of time, resulting in a smoother in-office experience.
Implementing this process will prevent your patients from having to arrive as early, freeing up your front desk staff to focus on other tasks or spend more time with patients rather than with their paperwork.
Incorporate internal staff text messaging
HIPAA regulations are strict when it comes to internal communications between staff members — especially text messaging. Sharing any patient information on non-secure lines can result in significant fines, loss of staff, and lawsuits.
With proper internal text messaging software and protocols, your staff members can communicate with one another via text messaging. This allows them to share information quickly, address any issues or concerns, and stay in the loop even if they’re out of the office or traveling.
Internal messaging can also enable a more efficient workflow, resulting in a better patient experience.
The big picture
Each tactic and type of technology can accomplish different goals but work toward the same outcome: fewer manual tasks and greater value for your staff and patients.
Although nothing can completely prevent burnout, these technologies will help your staff stress less about everyday repetitive manual tasks. They can also shift your staffing needs, reduce overhead, and leave you with the resources to better compensate your remaining staff.
Most importantly, alleviating your staff’s stress levels will help them perform better, deliver a better service to your patients, and improve overall patient satisfaction.
By implementing the right tactics and technologies, you can ensure you’re always delivering the best experience for your patients and staff.
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