There is no shortage of evidence linking improved patient experience (PX) to better outcomes — for businesses, staff and patients. When patients are happy with their experience as health care consumers, they are more likely to have positive health outcomes, more likely to stay with the clinic and more likely to recommend the clinic to friends and family. In addition, patients who rate their patient experience highly are far less likely to bring a claim for medical malpractice. As a bonus, staff turnover is less common in practices whose patients report higher levels of satisfaction with the patient experience1. All of these are great reasons to invest in patient experience. But where to start? What really matters to patients and what steps can clinics take to ensure patients’ expectations are being met?
What do patients complain about?
The first thing to note is that 63% of patients in a recent study rated their doctor as “five stars.” Most patient complaints have nothing to do with the diagnosis, treatment or clinical care they received. Instead, 96% of patient complaints are related to communication, wait times and office organization.1
Waiting times are a common complaint
35% of people surveyed cite long wait times as their main source of frustration when it comes to seeing a doctor. Crowded waiting rooms and long lineups are major sources of frustration for patients. The good news is that while waiting can’t always be eliminated, queues can be managed in such a way that drastically reduces the amount of frustration people feel. For example, if patients can join the line from the clinic’s website before they leave home and get status updates on their mobile devices, they can plan to arrive at the clinic just in time, so they feel that they haven’t waited at all. This is one of the key advantaged of WaitWell Queue Management Solution.
Simplify check-in with digital tools
Patients understand that there is a lot of information that needs to be collected before, during and after their visit. They want to see the process simplified and digitized. No more clipboards and dirty shared pens. Most patients prefer a digital COVID waiver or intake form that they can fill out on their mobile device, preferably before entering the waiting area.
Put patients in control of their appointment scheduling
77% of American patients surveyed want to be able to book, reschedule and cancel appointments online, yet 88% of all appointments are still scheduled over the phone2. Not only is this the opposite of the experience that patients want, it’s also a waste of valuable staff time. The average appointment takes 8 minutes on the phone to schedule. Much of the time that front desk staff spend booking, re-scheduling and canceling appointments could be re-directed to more valuable tasks. For example, staff could use the time they save by not having to schedule appointments by phone to collect patient feedback to identify other areas of improvement for your practice.
WaitWell’s unique appointment module allows patients to manage their appointments online or join a virtual queue as a walk-in. The best part is that appointments and walk-ins are managed from one simple queue, with appointments taking priority over walk-ins. Patients with appointments receive a text 10 minutes before their appointment asking them to confirm when they have arrived. At that point, they are added to the queue. This helps your practice to fill every time slot without crowding the waiting room.
Open lines of communication
53% of complaints from patients are related to poor communication. It’s not really surprising – medical offices are busy places and staff are often tied up with cleaning rooms, checking patients in, and answering the phones. Add in non patient-facing responsibilities like maintaining medical records and sending or receiving referrals, it’s understandable that effective communication between patients and medical office staff can be compromised.
One thing to remember when it comes to customer touchpoints is that the patient experience encompasses more than just the patient’s visit to the medical office. There are touchpoints before patients even make an appointment, such as newsletters, social media and online listings like Apple Maps or Google My Business listings that impact the patients’ overall impression of their patient experience. Similarly, billing and payment, rescheduling and follow-up instructions are part of the patient experience that happens after their appointment.
WaitWell can help to facilitate communication across multiple patient touchpoints. For example, WaitWell can send appointment email or text reminders and check patients in electronically. WaitWell can also take care of patient intake and waiver forms electronically and allow your staff to review these before inviting the patient into the office – no more sanitizing pens and storing paper copies. Our two-way SMS texting allows your office staff to send quick texts from the WaitWell queue screen and for patients to respond in real time. There are also many features within WaitWell that allow office staff to share information and manage priorities, resulting in a more streamlined workflow that benefits both staff and patients.
Fill every time slot – without filling your waiting room.
WaitWell helps medical practices to fill every time slot without filling the waiting room, helping to maximize efficiency and reduce patient wait times. At the same time, WaitWell delivers what patients really want: better communication, reasonable wait times and convenient online appointment and waitlist management.
Improving the patient experience
A better patient experience can lead to better health outcomes for patients, less staff turnover and a more profitable practice. Download our free Patient Experience White Paper to learn how your organization can elevate PX in your practice with patient queue management software and a patient appointment booking system.
12020 Healthcare Consumer Experience Study. Cedar. Dec 7, 2020.