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Healthcare facilities, like restaurants and retail stores, are dependent on the good reviews and repeat business that comes with providing people the best patient experience possible. Word of mouth advertising and online reviews drive new patient acquisition, especially in places with heavy competition.

Accepting new patients is important for a medical practice, as is retaining existing patients. Creating appointments for patients already in your system is easier, and there is less clerical work required when they arrive. While some causes of patient leakage are out of your control, offering an excellent experience will help you keep as many as possible. 

Below, we’ve assembled a list of suggestions to help convert first-time visitors into long-term, happy patients.

Create a welcoming atmosphere

When patients enter your facility, they make judgments based on what they can see, hear, and smell. Your patients want the highest quality of care, and offering them a relaxing environment helps them believe they’re in the right place. You can help your patients feel respected, cared for, and comfortable with these tips.

1. Minimize the wait

Nobody likes arriving early to their appointment, only to be kept waiting long past the scheduled time. It is important that your practice acknowledges its limitations to avoid overbooking. 

When your patients are kept waiting, try to keep them informed so they can set reasonable expectations. Time requirements for medical appointments can be volatile, but your patients are more likely to forgive delays if they are in the loop.

Not only will reducing wait times improve patient retention, but it may help attract new patients. For example, Acuity Eye Group has become the fastest-growing Ophthalmology group in the United States by prioritizing their patients’ time.

2. Offer entertainment

Nobody walking into a doctor’s appointment is expecting a carnival, but people need to occupy their minds while they’re stuck in a waiting room. This is especially pertinent if the nature of your practice does not allow you to mitigate the wait. 

Smartphones do take some of this burden off your hands, but not every patient will always have one. Setting out magazines is a classic option for such patients because they are relatively cheap, they ship to your office, and each one can get a lot of use.

While this will likely help with your adult patients’ boredom, you’ll need different options for the children who enter your office. To prevent kids from acting rambunctious, try setting out picture books, simple toys, or even a television. 

3. Set up decorations

You should take pride in how your health facility looks and smells. Set out objects that you feel convey the tone you are aiming for. Flowers can improve both of these aspects, especially if you find a vase that fits your color scheme. Your patients will feel more comfortable when care is put into crafting the perfect aesthetic.

To keep your decorations from going stale for your patients, change them up every once in a while. Setting out new decorations during holidays is an easy way to keep your office looking fresh. Your patients will notice the effort you put into celebrating with them, and each visit will feel more unique.

4. Hire a friendly staff

Your employees are the backbone of your organization, and it’s important to make sure that they treat your patients like family. We know you care about the happiness and comfort of the people who depend on your practice, and you should do your best to make them feel welcome.

Have your staff ask patients about themselves, their families, or their interests like they would a new friend. Have them also ask if they have any questions or concerns before and after their appointment. If your employees show an interest in your patients’ lives, they’ll feel cared for.

Additionally, your staff should know how to make children feel comfortable. Offering rewards after kids’ appointments (like a lollipop, sticker, or small toy) gives them something to look forward to.

Technology is your friend

Not every patient will be tech-savvy, but adopting new software and online services to streamline potentially burdensome processes can drastically improve the patient experience. Plus, many of these options automate the processes on your end, saving your employees valuable time. Types of software you can use to improve the patient experience include the following:

5. Online Scheduling

Setting up an appointment over the phone can be difficult for some people. Whether a patient has hearing issues, a busy schedule during your office hours, or anxieties about phone calls, they’re more likely to create appointments when the power is in their hands. 

Online schedules help your practice accommodate patient needs. They grant patients the opportunity to check availability at any hour without worrying about feeling rushed if they need to weigh their options. 

6. Digitize sign-up forms

By allowing your patients to fill out their new patient paperwork digitally before their appointment, you’re saving them from a longer potential wait. Your patients have different medical histories, so a form that takes one person 5 minutes to fill out may take another person 20 minutes. 

This practice may also help you get more complete information. If your patient is filling out their paperwork at home, they are more likely to have access to the names of their medication and a more accurate medical history. 

7. Maintain a strong web presence 

Having a high-quality website for your facility is more important every year that passes. If a new potential patient searches “Doctors near me,” they have two tools to weigh their options: reviews and websites. If your website is professional-looking, they are more likely to trust that your facility reflects that professionalism.

Patient feedback is a great tool when working to improve the patient experience. In addition to giving you insight regarding how to improve your practice, you can showcase your dedication to your patients by responding to reviews on Google or other review sites. Responding to positive reviews and negative reviews alike helps sway potential patients.

8. Simplify medical records retrieval 

Offering your patients an electronic method of medical records retrieval can be incredibly impactful to care coordination. ChartRequest simplifies the entire process with our secure, streamlined, and HIPAA-compliant software. Creating a medical records request takes just minutes, and your patients can submit requests to multiple facilities at once. Plus, your patients will love being able to check the status of their request anytime with our app.

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