5 Tips For Creating An Experience Your Patients
Will Talk About.

November 15, 2015 by in category Marketing with 0 and 0

Improve-Patient-ExperienceIf you’ve been in the urgent care business for more than a couple of weeks, you know that word of mouth is your strongest form of advertising. So that’s easy enough, right? Patients are satisfied with their care and they’ll tell everyone they know.

Not quite.

There are multiple facets to patient satisfaction. Quality care is certainly part if it, but it is their overall “experience” that leaves patients with a strong feeling about your clinic. Think of it as a Halo Effect–the tendency of patients (and really, all humans) to cut you some slack when they have an overall positive impression of your urgent care. This can include your location, your marketing, your staff and even your billing.

Here are some suggestions you might consider for your clinic.

  1. “They don’t seem to care.”Nearly 70% of our communication is body language. You may be doing things you don’t even realize you’re doing. For example, some healthcare professionals avoid making eye contact with “civilians.” Rushing self-importantly through the hallways, nearly running down patients. Patients being ignored by staff while they stand around talking. A television with the volume too loud. All of these can give a uncaring feeling to a patient who is already feeling under the weather. For example, our providers jot down notes instead of entering vitals or the diagnosis directly into our EMR, simply so they can provide direct contact with the patient.
  2. “Well, that’s inconvenient.” The time your patients spend in your clinic is considered a Moment of Truth––a “make it or break it” consideration about whether they will return or refer you. So take a walk in your patient’s shoes. Park where they do. Is there easy access for the handicapped or those on crutches? Fill out your own paperwork. Is it cumbersome? Is there a way they can fill it out online? How long are they waiting? Consider the use of a Triage Room. Patients who have been moved into a room perceive they have progressed and are less irritable about the overall visit time.
  3. “Everyone was wonderful!” This is the start of a great review. So get everyone on the same page. Remember, it’s not about telling your employees to provide a great customer experience, it’s about creating a purpose. The only way employees treat patients consistency is if they all understand their purpose within the clinic. From orientation forward, every employee must understand that he/she has day-to-day responsibilities, but just as importantly, he/she has a purpose—a reason that patients need them. The purpose is what drives every employee’s decisions. So an employee gives a mother a few moments to calm a crying child in the exam room (purpose), rather than rushing them out so the next patient can use the room (function). It seems obvious, but for many employees it’s not obvious unless you make it obvious.
  4. “I’m sorry.” Everyone makes mistakes. Most patients understand this, but they simply want to be heard and understood. Your staff should never be defensive, even if they know the patient is wrong or irrational. Train your staff to just listen, let the patient vent, then apologize. Not to admit fault or blame, but apologize that the patient feels the way they do and that you will address it as soon as possible. This approach should be taught to the whole staff through role-playing or other training tactics, so they will remain calm under pressure. Remind them that your goal is the Halo Effect, so that patients overlook minor issues because their overall experience is excellent. A few moments of patient ire can be resolved amicably by simply listening.
  5. Stop pointing fingers. The Ritz-Carlton is an example of an amazing customer experience. The founder of The Ritz would often say: “If a mistake happens once it may be the fault of the employee. If it happens twice, it is most likely the fault of the system.” There’s no reason you have to provide a luxury experience in your urgent care clinic like The Ritz Carlton, you can build a similar “blame-free” culture by identifying the issues in your system and fixing those.

If their experience is easy, so is their decision to return (or refer). Patients don’t expect perfection. Nor do they expect you to be different from any other urgent care. So when you are different, it becomes memorable. Make sure your systems and processes are created or adapted for the convenience of your patients, rather than your company, your staff or your billing company. I’m not saying you should make a difficult for your internal team, just think about alternatives to simplify your patients’ lives. Little difference create memorable experiences.