Have you ever walked out of a restaurant because they dropped the ball with your reservation? Did you mention the experience to family or friends? Did you ever go back to that restaurant? Consider that experience in light of how your patients interact with your practice. You can be sure your patients have.
The cost of losing a single patient is massive. It’s not just the loss of a single appointment; it’s the potential for that single appointment to turn into a loss the lifetime value of that patient. And imagine if that patient shares their reasons for leaving your practice with their circle of friends, or in an online review like Google or Yelp that broadcasts across their social media platforms. That single loss can trigger a tsunami.
So, what are some of the top reasons patients abandon practices?
Long Hold Times
Don’t you just love calling a business and being treated to an 80s music interlude, frequently interrupted by a voice telling you how important your call is to them? It’s no different with your patients. They’ve dialed your number expecting the fast, personalized service they experience with other businesses. And if they perceive a long wait is coming, they’re thinking, ‘if it takes this long just to speak to someone on the phone, how long am I going to sit in the office waiting for my appointment?’
Legacy phone systems are notorious for this kind of behavior and, worst of all, often reply to a patient’s call with a busy signal. Advanced patient engagement solutions provide the convenience of queuing patients based on the order of their call, or offering the option to return the call, freeing the patient from waiting in line. Customization allows for identifying VIP calls and routing them into a separate answering protocol.
You scheduled Patient Smith to see Doctor Jones at your Southside location on Thursday. The problem is, Doctor Jones is not at that location on Thursdays. But in full confidence of being seen, Patient Smith took time off work and traveled quite a distance to the location specified because Doctor Jones is the best in the field. She is not a happy camper. This reflects poorly on Doctor Jones, the practice, and potentially the medical or hospital group.
Effective patient engagement solutions offer multiple ways for patients to schedule appointments and can reduce errors.
- Online calendars let patients select day and time based on provider availability and location.
- Chat capabilities offer more privacy than talking with someone on the phone.
- HIPAA-compliant texts offer security, privacy, and the ability to respond when it’s convenient.
Clearly defined scheduling protocols and scheduling matrix software help connect the patient to the right doctor, at the right location, at the right time. And that’s the right way to take care of your patients.
Timeliness of the Appointment
Patients calling for an appointment really want to be seen that day. While this is not usually possible or even necessary, it’s often the unspoken expectation. Do your scheduling protocols ensure patients are seen as quickly as possible, with consideration of their need? Or do they sound more like this:
You: “We have an opening with Dr. Helm on Thursday at 3pm; would that fit your schedule?”
Her: “No, I have plans for then.”
You: “How about Monday at 1?”
Her: “Hmmm…out of town on Monday.”
You: “Tuesday at 10?”
You get the picture. Advanced patient engagement software can make conversations like this a thing of the past. Your patients (and staff) will thank you for it.
Delivering Gold Standard Experiences
Want to match your Gold Standard health care with Gold Standard patient service? Try these:
-When your providers are booked out, provide alternatives so your schedulers can either get a message to someone who can squeeze patients in or offer to schedule them in a different location.
-Anticipate the unexpected every day by reserving certain scheduling slots for urgent needs.
-Ensure scheduling slots are labeled correctly. This will facilitate guiding your schedulers according to predetermined protocols.
-Commit to a definite plan for including patient retention activities in your daily operations. Health maintenance and test scheduling reminders are great ways to keep your practice top of mind and contribute to keeping your patients in the fold.
Today’s patients expect choice. Choice in how they interact with your practice. Choice in matching your schedule with theirs. Advanced patient engagement software does what it says: helps you engage your patients. And an engaged patient is much less likely to walk away from your practice.