As a medical billing firm, we’re constantly thinking about how to help our clients improve their financial performance and get more of what they’re owed.
But in the healthcare environment, providers provide much more than care. Your practice’s role in each individual patient’s life is significant, and your long-term or ill patients may see the relationship as a huge part of their lives. So when you think about improving your financial performance, we encourage you to think beyond the revenue cycle to the entire experience a patient has when they interact with your practice.
Findings from a recent Weatherby Healthcare survey gave us some fresh food for thought on how providers can rethink the patient relationship and retain more patients (or expand their practices) in the process.
Invest in the Youth
75 percent of patients are satisfied with their primary care physicians, but young people are the least satisfied at large: Among patients 18 to 34, the satisfaction rate drops to 67 percent. (82 percent of patients over the age of 55 are satisfied with their physicians; and those in the middle age group hover at the larger 75 percent average.)
It’s not a surprising finding; older patients are more likely to live in places for longer times and receive more care, so they have more invested in the primary care relationship. But practices should help younger patients get attached, too. Encourage your patient-facing personnel, including docs, to engage young people with the same sincerity and warmth as the older patients they may see more often.
Your Surroundings Reflect on You
Your musty waiting room might be costing you. Patients – especially women (78%) – care about the design, cleanliness, and comfort of their physicians’ facilities. And perception is everything: Docs with clean, modern facilities (and the latest technology and equipment) are perceived as more competent and up-to-date with their skills.
So to make patients comfortable coming back to you time and again, make them comfortable in your office. Create a welcoming space and add design touches that reflect on how you want patients to feel when they’re with you, from calming colors to soft fabrics.
Remember: It’s Their Visit
Like providers, patients want the time they spend with you to be productive and pleasant. But that’s not always the case: Patients report spending nearly 29% of their time in the exam room waiting for the provider – leaving plenty of time for them to feel worried and ignored. (Oh, and if they don’t get the bedside manner they want once they make it back to the exam room, you might lose them: A quarter of patients would be “very” or “extremely” likely to switch to a new primary care physician were they to find one with a more positive attitude than their current physician.)
Ultimately, no good relationship is about waiting. Minimize the time patients spend outside the exam room, and be attentive and positive with them while they see you. It’s their time, and making it a useful can help you keep them loyal.
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