Welcome to question of the day #284

Eyetools question of the day #284

You have written about using a mystery patient to help improve customer and patient satisfaction in my practice. I know that the more satisfied my patients and customers the more prosperous my practice will be. Is there anything else you advise me to do?

Lots of satisfied patients will make a practice prosperous and lots of dissatisfied patients will kill a practice. Dissatisfied patients are more likely to never come back, and this leads to a loss of income.

To continue growing in your practice, it’s important to identify and address common points that are likely to lead to a patient becoming dissatisfied. Here are a few points to consider:

Patients not being examined on time.

Some research shows that 20% of people who have to wait beyond their appointment time for a health care consultation consider going to another practice. Keep a log of how many of your patients are not seen by the eye specialist on time and how long each wait is. If there are several eye specialists seeing patients which one(s) keeping patients waiting? If one or two then see what can be done to help them stick to the schedule. If all eye specialists can’t stick to schedule then there may be a fundamental patient flow or practice management problem that needs to be resolved. Gather the information, see if there is a problem and then do something about it. Also, let people know how long their wait will be. Research has shown that:

Eighty percent of patients would be less frustrated if they knew how long the wait would be.

A personal apology from the doctor would minimise frustration for 70 percent of patients.

Education. Patients are sometimes given a diagnosis about something they don’t understand, and therefore they don’t know what steps to take as a patient. This can leave them frustrated, confused, and irritated by your service.

Give patients access to appropriate online videos (that you have checked first) that will help explain a complicated diagnosis or give them written material. This may be something you have prepared yourself for something provided by a professional body. Don’t assume that your patients understand what you are saying. Most will say they do but won’t.

 Personalised service. Patients need a personalised service to feel appreciated and understood on a personal level. They want to be seen as an individual with unique needs, rather than just another patient that walks through your door. While personalisation should happen face to face, you can also provide a personalised service through well-written emails, text messages, letters, and more. You can be different from your competitors by treating each of your patients as an individual.

I recently hired a car and received a confirmation email headed ‘Dear Martin…’. My first name is Frank. I had to phone the company to make sure that the email confirmation was for my car reservation. I was told it was a copy-and-paste error. This is poor customer service and I don’t feel as if my reservation is valued by the company. I probably won’t use them the next time I want to hire a car.

A lot of time passes between appointments. By regularly connecting with your patients, you can stay top-of-mind and show that you’re interested in their well-being. Using patient recall software, you can send personalised messages to your patients to help them stay connected and remind them of upcoming exams.