How can you measure your patients’ expectations? What can you do in order to live up to their expectations? What do your patients expect from you as a provider? A lot of doctors and medical practices often overlook the importance and value of the patient experience. If you’re guilty of this, it’s not too late to change!
Patients (especially younger patients) are going online to look at online reviews. And they’re using review sites and Google to comparison-shop for physicians before choosing a new doctor. Plus, with the rise in high-deductible healthcare plans, now a practice’s revenue is usually made up (30% or more) of payments made by patients. So, it’s extremely important that you provide good customer service and a good patient experience if you want to stay in business. Otherwise, your competitors will steal away your patients.
What Patients Expect From You
Patients expect to be understood
Your patients don’t just want very broad tips about losing weight, quitting smoking, exercising, and all those general and so-called lifestyle changes. They want you to know and understand where they are in the process, what can motivate them to start or continue, and the amount of support and dedication that you’ll give to them as their doctor.
Patients expect you to value their time and respect them
One of the many things that patients hate is having to wait for a long time in the waiting room. At most, patients are willing to wait for at least 18 minutes before they start getting annoyed and irate. Patients expect you and your staff to always be on time and to value their time.
There are some patients who may even want a second opinion from another doctor. You shouldn’t balk at them. Instead, you should be supportive and respect their decision because patients have the right to a second opinion.
Patients expect to be heard
No one wants to be rushed, especially during a doctor’s appointment. Patients expect you to actively listen without making them feel like your rushing through their appointment. When they talk, they want to be heard so that when they want your opinion, you can also actively respond to them.
Patients expect easy access to their records
When it comes to getting their hands on their test results, patients don’t want to wait for weeks. Electronic health records may not be perfect in everyone’s eyes, but they do make communication flow easier between you and patients. And access will also be much simpler. As their doctor, patients expect you to provide all the information they need in convenient methods.
Patients expect to make decisions with you
It’s bad practice when you make decisions without consulting your patient first (unless it’s life-threatening). As their doctor, you should openly communicate with your patients when it comes to tests and medications. Most of your patients know their own bodies and you should recognize that. If your patients ask you about something that they don’t quite understand, answer all of their questions as descriptively as possible.
Patients expect you to be transparent
When it comes to their treatment/s, they definitely don’t like mysteries. You or your staff should inform your patients about how much every aspect of care will cost them. You should discuss your experiences with your other patients who have the same conditions as them and that includes success rates and especially risks.
Patients expect you to understand their financial situation
Not all of your patients have the money to pay for their health bills. And not even all of your patients have insurance; and we all know how expensive US healthcare is. You should consider the financial situation of your patients so that your patients won’t be hit with medical bills they can’t afford and that you’ll never be reimbursed for. Make sure to inform your patients if a certain procedure or test won’t be covered by their insurance.
Patients expect you to explain things
An appointment is a perfect place for you to thoroughly explain to your patients their conditions. Most patients won’t probably understand deep medical terms so as much as possible, do not let them leave your office without fully understanding their health condition, a test, procedure, or even their treatments.
Patients expect you to know them more
While most patients hide some of their past health issues from you, it’s your job to extract as much information about them as needed so that you can give them proper care. Without knowing their health history, you might compromise their health by giving them the wrong drug or giving them a treatment that can contradict their past health issues. Knowing if they had past issues about depression, domestic problems, and what causes them stress is very important as well. All of these factors can affect their health. As their healthcare provider, you should know your patients very well.
Patients expect you to encourage them
It’s never easy for any patient to learn whether or not they have a disease or ailment. Encourage your patients to bring a loved one to their appointment with them for moral support. Their support system can take notes and even ask questions that your patient can’t ask you. You shouldn’t just allow your patient to bring a companion, you should also encourage it.
What Happens If You Can’t Meet Your Patients’ Expectations?
Your revenue will take a major hit! While you may still get paid by their insurance companies (if they have insurance and if the claim is approved), but they’re definitely not coming back to your clinic. Why would they want to go back to a doctor who doesn’t care about them? I mean, would you? I know I wouldn’t.
If your patients aren’t satisfied with the service that you’ve provided them, then they will opt to look for another doctor who has more compassion. If you want to retain your current patients and turn them into loyal patients, it’s important to think about their needs and expectations. Then, if they have a good experience, not only will they stay with you, but they may refer you to their friends and family. And, as you well know, more patients means more money.
However, here’s the flip side - if they’re not happy with you, not only will they leave but they’ll also give you a negative review online. And they’ll likely tell their friends, family and coworkers too. Yikes!
That’s Why We’re Here!
DrCatalyst is here to help save the day! At DrCatalyst, we understand the importance of providing a good patient experience. And that’s why we offer numerous services that can help you with providing quality care and service at your practice. Interested in learning more?