How to Grow a Medical Practice – Think Like a Patient
Medical practices need to think like their patients.
- Think Like a Patient When Creating Your Website
Think like a patient. Ask yourself “What are my patients looking for? What do they search for online? What do patients want and need to see? What do they see online when they search for our business?”
Keep these things in mind when you design your website. Make sure that critical information about your practice is easy to find and that things like your phone number and physical address are prominently listed throughout the website.
- Think Like a Patient When Looking at Your Office
Most homes have what we call “character” that we don’t notice after a while. A room has been under construction so long that we don’t notice, or there’s a crack in the sidewalk that we don’t even remember because we’ve seen it so many times. The same type of thing happens in an office. We are so used to the office that we don’t notice the shortcomings. Take a look with fresh eyes. What does a brand new patient see? What does the office look like and communicate? Be honest. A dirty or messy office is going to create an impression about the quality of medical care patients will receive, whether it is accurate or not.
- Think Like a Patient When Evaluating Your Staff
Remember the mindset of a patient – especially a new patient. Most often, patients are experiencing a range of emotions. While your employees are very used to the procedures they follow, patients are not. Take a fresh look at your staff and ask yourself “How are they treating patients? Are they coming across as knowledgeable? Compassionate? Helpful?” Also take a look at the workload of your staff. If they look too busy to help, or if they’re too busy to effectively and compassionately assist patients, it’s time to re-evaluate your staffing situation.
- Think Like a Patient When Answering the Phone
A phone call is typically the first interaction with a new practice, and it is crucial that a positive first impression is made here. A significant number of leads are lost due to poor customer service on the phone. It doesn’t matter how good of a surgeon you are, if a patient leaves before even making an appointment, you’ve already lost an opportunity. Listen to your staff on the phone and ask yourself, “Is the staff personal? Do they have the right answers to the questions they are asked? Are they equipped to answer the questions being asked of them? Do they know what to do?” Make sure to pay extra attention to tone of voice as well – there are no visual cues on the phone and it’s very easy to be taken out of context.
- Think Like a Patient When Following Up
It is significantly easier and more cost effective to earn repeat business and word of mouth patients than it is to earn new patients through other marketing means. The follow-up is the last interaction you have with a patient, and is what they will likely remember the most (or not at all if you have no follow-up). Think like a patient who doesn’t know the next steps intuitively. Are they clear on what to do next and where to go for help? Have they been given clear instructions? Have they been thanked? Many practices don’t have a strategy here and miss out on major opportunities. The last impression is big.
Once you think through your practice from the eyes of a patient, it should create natural steps that you can take to move forward. Some practices will be able to evaluate themselves internally, but usually it takes some fresh eyes to see some of the existing problems. Once the improvement areas have been determined, it’s time to take some action steps.
Here are 5 action steps to take for the improvement areas mentioned above:
- Check Analytics/Website Analysis:
Take a look at your Google Analytics and see what web pages most of your visitors are coming to. Make sure those pages are stellar and are easily accessible from the home page – those are the ones that people want to see! You can also have a professional perform a full website analysis for you. They can take a look at your site from a fresh perspective, and take a look under the hood to see how your visitors are navigating the website and can give you a tune-up. (If you’re interested in a website analysis, click on the “contact us” link and put “website analysis” in the comments. We’ll get back to you on how we can get started analyzing your website and help its performance.)
- Patient Satisfaction Surveys:
Patient Satisfaction Surveys are an excellent way to give your current patients a voice and see how you’re doing in a real-world environment. Information gathered from these surveys is critical to evaluating your practice in an honest way to find areas of improvement and creating an action plan to increase your customer retention rate. Points Group also has automated patient satisfaction surveys, which can be fully customized for your needs.
- Secret Shopper
A secret shopper initiative can be done in person or over the phone, depending on the specific areas the practice would like to evaluate. This simply requires someone who is unknown to the staff acting as a prospective patient and evaluating their experience. This can be especially helpful in addressing and evaluating specific complaints that come up online or through other surveys by creating specific scenarios for the “secret shopper” to run through.
- Phone Training
Once the problems have been identified, phone training is essential. Though phone training is often considered for employees who have difficulty in dealing with customers, it is also very useful in helping your phone staff to get the right information, streamline a process, and create the right kind of experience to get customers from prospect to patient.
- Process Consulting
Process consulting doesn’t necessarily sound patient-centric, but it is critical for a positive patient experience. If your processes take too long, are confusing for a patient, or cause opportunities (like follow-up) to be missed, they are creating a detrimental patient experience. Process consulting can help streamline your practice, making it more efficient, cost effective, and friendly for the patient.
Taking the Next Step
There is a lot to do here, and this is overwhelming for a lot of practices. The key is to tackle one issue at a time. As consultants, we do not try to tackle everything at once, but create a plan to systematically address any issues within the practice that can be improved piece by piece.
If you want your practice to grow and either need help in specific areas or just an idea of where to start, give us a call. We can start with a free evaluation of your practice.