Word-of-mouth travels fast, and with so many healthcare practices under fire for not putting their patients first, it is increasingly apparent how much patients value a patient-centric medical practice. Patients are quick to leave a practice if they believe their needs are not a priority.
Building a good online reputation is important for any medical practice to succeed, but in order to improve and maintain that reputation, a practice has to be patient-centric at its core – not as an afterthought. In addition, when practices succeed at putting patients first, patients are more likely to recommend and stay with a practice longer.
Why Patient Centricity Is Important
Many reasons motivate medical professionals to start a new healthcare practice: passion, money, dedication and fame. However, regardless of the motivation behind setting up a medical practice, there is an aspect that is common to all medical practice owners: If you do not acquire and retain patients, you will not survive.
And, from this simple answer, you can derive the importance of being patient-centric as an entity. A medical practice that ignores its patients is destined to fail. Such as practice will offer the wrong products and services, hire the wrong employees and lose reputation in the market.
A patient-centric practice proves the opposite case. Every staff listens to patients and is aligned with that goal. In turn, the practice offers services that meet patient needs, anticipates patient demands and provides a level of service that keeps patients coming through the door and recommending the brand.
So, how do you keep up with this modern marketing challenge? By becoming patient-centric.
Patient-Focused or Patient-Centric?
A patient-focused strategy is critical, but patient centricity is even more important. A patient-centric practice is one that enables a good patient experience before, during and long after the appointment. It is one that puts the patient first, no matter what, and it is a brand that is empathetic, trustworthy and respectful. It is something that is felt in the practice’s culture – at the front desk, in marketing, and from the patient engagement team.
Beyond that, a patient-centric practice’s stellar reputation is likely to bring in new patients because people are more willing to visit a practice they believe will treat them well and personalize their experience. According to Forrester, 77 percent of customers chose, recommended and paid more for a brand that provides a personalized experience.
Understanding the definition of a patient-centric practice is one thing. But applying it and gauging the patient centricity of your practice is a different ballgame altogether. Here are three questions to ask yourself to see just how patient-centric your practice is:
Question #1: How well do you know your patients?
Are your patients happy? Understanding your patients can take time, but they are a store of valuable information that can be used to improve your practice as well as its patient satisfaction score. In order to be a patient-centric practice, it is essential to create a space for patients to voice their thoughts and opinions. It is even more important to listen to what your patients want. Online surveys can help you understand your patients’ needs and demands. Online communities will allow your patients to not only engage with one another but also with your practice. You can get to know your patients through online surveys because they are an easy way to check on your practice’s patient satisfaction score and understand your patients’ pain points.
Take the first step to protect your online reputation and request your Online Reputation Assessment.
Question #2: How well do you support your patients’ needs?
Once you know your patients, you can focus on better serving them and, as a result, improving your overall reputation as well as the bottom line. One way to support your patients’ needs is proactive patient engagement; reaching out first promotes meaningful patient relationships. It is your chance to learn what matters to your patients and how you can focus on their top concerns. Chat and messages enable practices to reach out first with personalized messages to patients on mobile devices. You can use chats and messages to greet patients, offer help before they ask and provide information they might not even know they need.
Question #3: Do you empower your staff to support your patients?
Understanding and supporting your patients is key to being a patient-centric practice, yet it is equally important to empower your staff. The best way to empower your staff is to equip them with the right knowledge and training. Just as patients are sources of valuable insight for your improvement, so are your employees. The right tools and trainings can enable your staff to provide competent and quick assistance to your patients.
Being a patient-centric practice is no small task, but it is worth the time and effort spent to get there. Getting to know your patients enables your practice to support their needs and improve your practice’s reputation – and a happy patient means improved word-of-mouth, more patients and a healthy bottom line.
Steps to Transition to a Patient-Centric Practice
Learning how to be patient-centric sounds good. But if you are an established practice with partial data, lack of patient knowledge and an organizational culture that rewards generating more revenue over meeting the needs of your patients, then you have quite a job to do.
While many practices have personas of their ideal patients, few use them with consistency. If you are one of those practices, you need to build personas based on actual patient interactions and experiences. Make them simple enough that everyone in your practice can understand and remember them.
- Demonstrate What Great Patient Service Can Achieve: It is important to demonstrate to your team how building a patient-centric culture will help the practice achieve its goals. Your team will benefit from hearing how great patient service can affect the revenue, retention and practice’s potential to thrive. You can base this conversation on why a memorable patient experience is important to your team, your culture and your mission.
- Make Patient Satisfaction a Priority: When you put your patients ahead of everything else, you are opting for the most crucial stakeholder in your business – patients. This is because patients pay your salaries and bring you revenue. Your staff must understand that he or she will be appreciated for putting other tasks on the back burner just to ensure patients’ experience. This also means that you need to empower your staff and give them the necessary training and authority to help them make the best decisions for your patients.
- Hold Employees Accountable for Patient Experience: If no one knows who is responsible for improving patient experience, this means no one is. Because a patient’s experience spans across various departments, each employee needs to be accountable for ensuring a pleasant experience. In addition, patient experience needs to be a factor in all your decisions – from your vendors to the emails you send to patients to remind them of their upcoming appointments. Your staff must be willing to go the extra mile for your patients and understand that every employee has a stake in it.
- Reward Employees for Ensuring Patient Satisfaction: In order to become a patient-centric practice, every aspect of your business should be aligned with the sole purpose of creating an optimal patient experience. For this to materialize, you must hire and train a motivated team that sees personal gains in ensuring patient satisfaction. Forward-thinking practices achieve this by linking employee incentives with patient satisfaction. You can consider rewarding employees who go the extra mile in resolving patient issues and delighting them.
- Hire and Fire for the Patients: The process of creating a patient-centric culture in your practice starts with hiring the right employees and setting the right expectations. Any new employee joining your practice should understand the emphasis you put on patient satisfaction. Patient centricity is a core value of your practice, and your staff should be aligned with it. You will be better off without individuals who do not believe in your practice’s core values.
The shift toward becoming a patient-centric practice is both complicated and tedious, but do not be discouraged by this as even the smallest changes to processes can have a significant impact on both employees and patients.
Being a patient-centric practice is the Holy Grail toward unlocking the true potential of patient value. Always try to put yourself in your patient’s shoes – minimize the patient’s efforts and maximize value.
So, do you consider yourself a patient-centric medical practice?