As with any business, staff in a healthcare practice can develop bad habits that affect efficiency, productivity — and revenue flow.
These bad habits may be difficult to break, as you need the entire team’s buy-in, their time and their ability to prioritise. However, by making a few key changes in your practice operation, you can improve your office workflow and connections with patients — without straining your staff.
Adopting easy-to-use software platforms or technologies can help automate your office processes, which will streamline your operation. Patients expect their medical providers to be forward-thinking, with the latest technology including digital and virtual platforms.
Online scheduling, digital patient registration, automated appointment reminders, and possibly telehealth services — your patients expect these. You’ll find this technology serves your patients better, and improves your practice’s operational workflow. With these in place, your patients are more likely to return, preventing lost revenue and improving satisfaction all-around.
Let’s take a quick look at a few common problems:
#1: Ignoring the patient’s overall experience
A “patient’s experience” begins when they make an appointment and (hopefully) results in their paying the bill. Beyond those interactions, there are many more opportunities to connect with patients — and prospects.
The patient’s journey actually begins when they are searching for a provider, typically via a Google search. Very often, the healthcare provider they find via this search will lead to a long-term relationship –10+ years. This results in a lifetime value worth thousands of dollars, perhaps tens of thousands of dollars, depending on your medical specialty. Nurturing that relationship via social media, reminder texts, patient satisfaction surveys and other methods can really impact your revenue stream, either positively or negatively.
A proactive marketing communications strategy is essential, and should encompass a year-round plan. Targeted emails and satisfaction surveys are opportunities to educate patients and obtain feedback on your practice. Appointment reminder texts and other relevant touch points help keep your practice top of mind, and work to keep appointments booked.
#2: Avoiding automation of office processes
It’s time to ditch the Post-it notes, pens, fax machines and clipboards. When it comes to efficient practice management, it’s essential to switch to digital tools that improve your staff’s workflow, save time, and reduce frustration.
A healthcare practice platform will automate manual functions so that, as your practice grows, your staff can easily handle the increased patient base.
With digital tools, your staff won’t waste time on repetitive tasks or frustrate your patients with scheduling calls. Emails can politely remind patients to make payments, instead of staff making irritating calls. There’s no more voicemail phone tag in setting up appointments.
Digital practice management offers convenience, productivity, and patient safety. Digital connections help prevent lost paperwork and help you stay organized.
#3: Ignoring the no-shows
You can’t afford to ignore the missed appointments and no-shows, as they are costing you a huge sum in lost revenue. In fact, these no-shows make it harder to maintain a positive patient-provider relationship. And research shows they are 70 percent more likely to leave your practice over the next couple of years.
You can easily transform the interaction with simple text messages — automated appointment reminders. When you invite new patients to fill out paperwork ahead of their appointment, you reduce the no-shows. And if you have repeat offenders, consider collecting payment up front to minimize your financial risk.
#4: Forgetting patients’ preferences
With all of today’s communication modes, it’s critical to ask patients how best to connect with them. And take it seriously.
If patients prefer text messaging for appointment reminders, take it to heart. You’ll build trust and a long-term relationship when you take time to understand and respect your patients’ preferences.
#5: Overlooking patient feedback
Patient feedback is packed with useful information for your practice, and can be the key to acquiring and retaining patients. Healthcare providers do a great job listening to their patients in the exam room, but may be guilty of ignoring patient feedback when it appears in surveys or other methods.
You must pay attention and take it seriously. When you ask about their experience with your practice and providers, listen carefully and always respond to any issues or criticism.
Online reviews must be monitored, as it is critical in addressing those concerns. Any negative reviews can affect public perceptions and choices about your practice, you must respond every time — and respond carefully, especially when it’s negative feedback. Consider this feedback to be a gift — a well-informed opinion from a very credible consultant advising you on how to improve your business. This patient feedback can help you build a practice that continues to grow for decades.