Are you adding enough wow to your patient’s experience of being a patient in your Private Practice?
If it’s been a while since you thought about this, why not take a little time to run through it yourself.
Creating a great patient experience shouldn’t be left to chance. It’s much more than what goes on in the consulting room. And it’s the little details that really matter.
If you’ve ever been a patient yourself, what was your experience like? Was it the epitome of Private Practice excellence, or a frustrating “meh”?
Here are some tips for increasing the WOW factor in your patient journey.
1) Take the time to map out the patient journey.
How do patients get to hear about you, and how do they book in to see you? How do you tell colleagues to practically go about referring patients to you?
This is the step that can make or break whether the patient even makes it in the front door of your clinic, and it starts with your online presence.
If it’s been so long since you built it that website looks like it was built in DOS 2.0, it won’t set a “cutting edge” tone.
Your website really is the first time a patient gets to visualise what you’re all about. When a patient lands on your website, they need to feel from the language and tone that you really “get them” and what they are going through. They need to read that you understand that suffering with an arthritic knee/snoring spouse/long Covid is a miserable experience and that you’re going to take care of them as a person, not just a “sub-spine impingement” case.
Use up to date images of you (invest in some professional photography) and go one step further and use video of you on your “home”, “about” and how-I-can-help-you pages. This instantly builds rapport and starts the know-like-and-trust process, because the patient starts to feel that they already know you a little.
2) Reduce the bureaucracy associated with the “Admin” of being a patient.
If you work in a private hospital environment, you’ll know it’s impossible to have full control over registration processes, but you can do your very best to reduce admin frictions at your end. Make enquiries and appointments as effortless as possible.
If you’re happy with patients making an online booking via a practice management software portal, make it as dummy-proof as possible.
Signpost the patient along the way.. how should they know which length of appointment they should book, and if you work at more than one site, how can you ensure they are really booking at the venue they think they are?
If you have a medsec, are they able to pick up the phone and able to answer the patients’ questions immediately, or are you over-burdening them with tasks that could and should be outsourced (e.g., typing transcription).
The role of your medsec is to look after your patients, and ensure the smooth running of the practice, and once your practice gets to a certain size, you need to move to outsourcing tasks that are getting in the way of the patient experience.
3) Make the geography easy for the patient.
You know where you work, but does your patient really know how to find you in the building?
I work in part of the Shard which has a dedicated entrance, and when I first started to work there, patients would wander off to a different entrance, or find themselves in Guys and Tommy’s across the road.
If you’ve had a similar problem with lost patients, make step-by-step photo map (showing them exactly what to look for when they leave the tube), or a video literally walking them through the process. This is a great way to showcase your lovely surroundings too. The patient arrives unflustered, and on time, and your clinic runs smoothly.
4) Don’t leave the patient to their own devices.
This is a way to annoy or lose them.
No matter what was written in an email sent to them, explaining in detail that it’s up to them to book a follow up appointment after their scan, you can be guaranteed that about half of the patients won’t even bother to read it. So, they have the scan and then sit around for three weeks waiting for YOU to contact THEM.
Build in a process of checking which results are
waiting/back/need an appointment booking, and concierge the patient through that process.
When it comes to referring a patient to a colleague, don’t just give them a business card or ask them to Google it, link them up via email, ensuring that the other clinician’s team knows to reach out and get that booking set up.
Ensure any correspondence is swiftly sent, and above all, make sure that if any images or investigations need “porting over” that that actually happens.
There’s nothing less impressive for a patient than arriving for a consultation and there are no scans for the consultant to look at.
This works both ways of course. If you’ve been referred a patient, ask each and every time if any imaging or data needs to be gathered in and ask your admin team to oil those wheels of transfer. How many times have you been asked by a patient “did you get a letter from “x’ person? They said they were going to write”.
And as a final note about colleagues, if you’re referring to somebody new, or if you know the patient had a lot hanging on the outcome of the consultation, give them a ring, or drop them an email to see how it went. Even if you never see that patient again, leave them with an excellent lasting impression of professionalism.
5) Give them more than enough time.
Don’t run your Private Practice in the way you were told you had to in the NHS.
Even if you can make a killer diagnosis in two minutes flat, you still need to ensure the patient has felt like they’ve had plenty of “face time”, and you’ve given them every opportunity to have their questions answered (and yes, that includes the “Dr Google” print out they brought with them).
And a particular note if you’re a surgeon. Stop cramming follow-ups into 10-minute appointments! If I hear a patient of mine saying “he barely spent five minutes with me”, you can bet I’ll not be referring to that clinician again. Why? Because a bad referral experience makes us all look bad, and I want better for my peeps. I know you do too. Just sayin'
6) Smarten up and show up.
Is your consulting room’s bin overflowing with used couch roll, and the atmosphere less than fresh after the exit of the sweaty teenage patient?
Air freshener, an open window and a quick room scan for untidiness makes all the difference for that initial
experience of when the patient comes into the room.
Tidy yourself too! If you’re arriving rushed and dishevelled with a creased shirt and bad breath after a frantic NHS fracture clinic, you’re not going to look and feel luxe.
You’re charging for the experience and you need to give the patient a high-end experience as well as a dose of clinical excellence.
Dress up, slap a big smile on your face, and give each patient a bit of razzle-dazzle, no matter how long the day has been.
If you’re looking for help and support with growing your Private Practice, why not consider joining the Private Practice Ninja Academy?
I’m at firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd prefer a natter.