The face and nature of medicine is rapidly shifting. Physicians are expected to work with patients as healthcare providers, rather than taking on an authoritative tone. Digital technology is being leveraged to provide better care, partially through the improved collection and analysis of patient information. The continued development of AI will lead to faster and more accurate diagnoses, better analysis of patient information for more accurate care, fraud detection, and error prevention.
Through the widespread proliferation of the smartphone and advances in incorporating developing technologies like the blockchain into healthcare, patients and providers alike will have easier and faster access to complete patient information through electronic health records, and researchers will have a better data pool to draw from when working on treatments and developing medicines.
Meanwhile, the growth enjoyed by urgent care centers suggests that patients are looking for more convenience and speed in healthcare. Practices and providers must embrace a new kind of customer-oriented experience, where patients place a premium not only on quality care, but ease-of-use. For many clinics and hospitals, a new priority has unfolded: improving the customer experience. To do so, they must leverage existing and unfolding technologies and introduce new training for their staff.
Patients Want Convenience
If patient surveys are anything to go by, patients want faster access to medical services, especially in convenient locations. Convenience is the name of the game at the moment, and practices must strive to improve customer experiences without sacrificing quality of care. By making life easier for your patients, you’re giving them reasons to value your practice more than the competition.
On the note of customer care, surveys indicate that there is room for growth in the customer experience department. Patients rarely complain about the quality of their healthcare and rate their physicians highly – but report poor experiences with support staff. Small frustrations fueled by a lack of transparency can drive patients away, even when the medical care they are receiving is great.
Most hospitals and executives understand this, as surveys indicate. But what can practices do to facilitate the transition towards a more pro-consumer experience?
Lower Wait Times, Better Support Staff
Patients wait an average of 18 minutes and 13 seconds before they see their physician. Practices know that wait times are frustrating for patients, but it’s unrealistic to try and eliminate wait times entirely. Instead, aim to improve wait times, and make wait times more pleasant by hiring more staff to work the front desk, and making it standard practice for support staff to greet and address patients in a friendly, accommodating fashion.
Changes such as standing up when patients enter, greeting them appropriately, and wishing them a good day when they leave can have a simple yet profound impact on the way patients view your practice. The more welcomed and respected they feel, the less likely they are to be irritated by a few minutes extra wait.
Extra staff means better, streamlined work. The front desk has a lot to do on a busy day – they must accommodate patients, answer calls, and organize schedules. If it’s clear that your front desk is being overwhelmed, hire a helping hand to better divide the work. The faster these tasks are performed, the better. Try to make it a rule of thumb for your staff to be in at least thirty minutes before the first appointment, so everything is setup and ready before the first patient arrives.
Encourage patients to book appointments earlier in the day if they want little to no wait times – the first and second appointments are almost always going to be on-time, with later appointments having to account for the little things that get in the way of work on a daily basis.
Practices today must shift from dispensing medical services simply on a case-by-case episodic basis, and instead move towards fostering long-term continuous relationships with patients. Streamline care by making it easier for yourself to access and review a patient’s EHR through better data management, and focus on improving your own customer care skills, to help patients feel welcomed and truly cared for.
Outside of the office, schedule and send routine follow-up messages along the patient’s preferred method of communication (something you can store alongside their profile within your own database). Timely follow-up and continued correspondence let a patient know that you care, and that you’re available.
Direct Medication Dispensing
In-office, or point-of-care dispensing can be an important tool to further introduce customer convenience into your practice. In the states where in-office dispensing is available, practices would do well to leverage this and further set themselves apart from the competition.
By prescribing and dispensing medication at the point-of-care, you save your patients the time and energy it takes to make a trip to the nearest pharmacy, and it gives you the ability to better control and enforce medication adherence, as well as giving them the time and place to ask their questions and educate them about their treatment.
Among the many benefits attributed to direct dispensing, a big one is convenience and immediacy. Most surveyed patients responded that they would prefer direct dispensing to the alternative and enjoy the fact that point-of-care dispensing would allow them to begin their treatment right away.
Embrace Change in Medication Dispensing and Healthcare Services
Many practices recognize the need for an improved customer experience. When trying to streamline crucial processes or introduce conveniences like direct dispensing, it helps to partner up with the right solutions provider. The right partner can help practices avoid hefty overhead costs, logistical issues, legal mishaps, and the consequences of poor implementation.
Proficient Rx provides private practices, hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare professionals with the means to begin in-office dispensing within a few days, with an easy-to-use web-based dispensing program and access to repackaged brand, generic, and OTC medication. Proficient Rx’s web-based software helps businesses track and manage their inventory, so they’re safely able to oversee when and to whom they’re providing medication in-office.