Many people alive today have never had the experience of their family doctor recognizing their face when they show up at the reception desk or making a house call. Sometimes those unexpected visits happened long after regular business hours or on Saturday when the office wasn’t officially open. Patients were not only customers, but friends. Real relationships outside medicine were the foundation for relationships inside medicine.
For so many reasons, no one wants to go back in time and give up all the benefits of modernization. New practices and protocols have resulted in improved outcomes and a better quality of life for countless patients. Technology allows us to get real data and information in an instant and make it easy for us to leverage patient feedback. The painful wait time from initial diagnoses to treatment gets shorter and shorter. Unfortunately, along the way, our patients (and providers) started to feel disconnected.
A commitment to engaging with patients isn’t new at all. Relationships have always been at the heart of patient care. But in a fast-moving world with people communicating through gadgets as much as face-to-face, it’s sometimes difficult to create bonds and establish loyalty.
What can you do to ensure you’re creating lasting relationships?
Patient relationships begin and end with a commitment to patient-centered care. Use these five tips to get you started.
1. Insist on a patient-first philosophy
Patients walk through your door because they need you to take away their pain, help their child feel better, or remove their fear. They believe in you and they trust you. Show them you appreciate it with a clinic-wide patient-first philosophy.
- Be sure each patient is greeted with kindness.
- Help them understand the confusion around insurance, copays
- Be sure practitioners make each visit feel personal.
- Give them a superior experience that proves they were right to choose your practice.
2. Choose products that improve the patient experience start to finish.
With so many EMRs and software solutions available, it can be hard to choose what’s best for your practice. When deciding which EMR is right for your urgent care center:
- Make a list of your biggest challenges. Does the solution help you meet them?
- Make a list of what parts of your solution are working. Will these be compromised with a new solution?
- Make a list of all the different technology you use to get the job done. Can you consolidate more of the products and services you use under a single vendor?
- Make a list of the benefits you receive from your technology solution beyond software? What’s missing?
3. Make sure your healthcare services are convenient and accessible.
This begins with an easy-to-find location and accommodating parking, but reaches beyond your physical location. Today’s patients expect an online experience that is just as friendly as your staff.
- Keep your website fresh.
- Provide an easy-to-navigate online interface.
- Offer online appointments and patient queues on your website.
- Save your patients and your staff time with remote registration from mobile devices.
- Keep patients in the loop with easy access to their medical record.
- Ask for patient feedback with simple online surveys.
4. Use data to make informed decisions about your practice
Providing a satisfying patient experience depends on your commitment to continuous improvement. Your technology solutions provide one big key to finding the bottlenecks and challenges in the patient journey—data.
- Be sure you have access to your data.
- Tune into key KPIs with regular monitoring and reporting.
- Compare your performance to industry benchmarks.
- Make simple adjustments based on data analysis.
- Recognize that even small improvements can help you save patients time, add convenience, and optimize your revenue.
5. Be intentional about everything you do.
Your patients expect you to stay informed about the latest healthcare concerns, trends, insurance practices, prescription drugs, and treatments. Every decision you make about your software solutions, protocols, staffing, and marketing should be done with the intention of improving your practice and delivering on your promises to patients.
The practice of medicine began centuries ago with one-on-one relationships, with a focus on individual patients. While initially, technology created a gap between patients and providers, today’s solutions are allowing us to return to a place where patients feel valued and able to be an integral part of their own healthcare journey.
As the healthcare landscape and patient expectations expand, the entire urgent care industry is leading the way into the future, making patients—and their care—the focus of every decision they make.