4 Ways to Enhance Your Patients' Experience
At the end of the day, the Doctor, the office, everything we have learned and done, does not matter if you do not have patients in the chair. You have to find a way to compete with all the noise and make yourself stand out. I have four ways for you to enhance your patients' experience.
First, do you make your patients wait? Stop it! Let me begin with a trip down memory lane, in undergrad I worked for a glaucoma specialist. She was always booked out like crazy, and she was never on time. The waiting room would be packed and patients would wait for hours. It was absolutely ridiculous. There were times when patients would be approaching 2 hours of wait time, and she would be in her office eating taco bell! How does that happen? I do not care what any practice management guru says, scheduling in such a way that you see more patients, but they wait longer will not give you more revenue. I feel it will diminish your product and they will either not come back, or flee the scene before buying anything. Get them in and out in less than 45 minutes, you can do it.
Furthermore, this applies to 3 other key areas in your office: waiting for an appointment, waiting for their glasses/contacts to arrive, and waiting for communication from your office. In regards to appointments, it may feel nice to be booked out for x amount of weeks, but people hate waiting. Adding a few evenings will go a long way, but if the demand stays high, it may be time to add another doctor. When it comes to glasses, can you name me something, anything in which you pay 5, 6, $700 and walk out of the store with nothing? Heck patients come to get their glasses all the time and jokingly say they forgot what they picked out. If you can't get your glasses to the patient in under a week, you need to push your lab harder, or find a new one. The patient directly correlates the wait time with YOU. Be better! The last one generally falls on the staff, which I hope you remember, is a reflection of you. If a patient makes a request, you have 24 hours (be quicker if humanly possible) if you're lucky. If they need a refill, have a question, issue, or problem, get them the help they need ASAP.
Second, do what the other guy did not. Listen. My techs always ask a patient what they like about their glasses or contacts and what they didn’t. Patients, especially new ones, will often say these glasses were never right. They told me X, Y, Z and I tried to get help, but they never followed through. You better take this to heart, or you will be the former doctor they are telling the new guy about. I will always make sure to directly address their glasses concerns with my opticians during the handoff. “Mr. Jones has had issues with the bifocal being too high, Make sure to take extra time to measure, and I will adjust it before ordering” I may even measure in front of them and tell the staff it's an 18 seg, order it at 17. It's the power of suggestion, you can do whatever you want, but the patient feels heard and you are actively trying to not repeat the other guy's errors.
Next, what is your attitude with Rx checks? If you are smart, you are overjoyed to have a second chance. Think about all the people who remain silent, do not disturb you or your staff, and NEVER are heard from again. If they give you a second chance to fix their issues, make sure you are cordial and apologetic and assure them you will get this figured out. Half to three quarters are embarrassed to even have to come back thinking they messed it up somehow. At our office, we call every dispense 3 days later asking if they have any questions. We want to find issues, so we can fix them ASAP and keep them coming back.
Lastly, how do you take your case history? As a patient, I hate it when I fill out a lengthy review of systems sheet, only to have the nurse/tech ask me the same questions, and then follow it up with the doctor asking me again! Do they even read what I put down? Am I taking crazy pills? I know, I know, it's required, etc, etc. Be tactful, why not have your tech just run through the questions. It will speed things up and they can keep things moving. Then you can go over things with the patient that the tech has already told you showing you are indeed paying attention to everything they say. It’s a small thing, but little details go a long way with a patient.
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