Are practices keeping up with ever-higher patient expectations, Ofer Yatziv-Green questions.
Now, more than ever, we rightfully expect to receive a certain level of customer service, especially when it comes to healthcare.
Patients often feel anxious when entering an unfamiliar environment, in which the smells and sterile atmosphere can evoke apprehension and even fear. It follows that any unnecessary aggravation is likely to intensify these feelings, so it’s vital that dentists recognise these issues and do everything possible to ease this anxiety and make the patients’ journey through the practice as smooth and relaxed as possible.
First impressions count
These days, your patients’ journey starts way before they even set foot in the practice. Being on page one of search engine results and as close to the top as possible creates a strong online presence and is the result of an optimised, relevant and responsive website, that has plenty of four and five-star reviews.
View your website with a critical eye, putting yourself in the position of a patient and understand where their journey around the site might take them. Always ask for reviews and recommendations and have a streamlined process for ensuring reviews are posted as soon as possible on relevant channels, so your rankings start to benefit straight away.
Keep them hooked until booked
Once a patient has clicked onto your website don’t let them get away! Make sure that relevant information is easy to access and that it’s easy for patients to book an appointment.
Online booking is the norm for service providers such as restaurants, theatres, airlines etc and dental practices are no different. Statistics currently tell us that nearly half (47%) of online bookings are made out of hours and with attention spans shortening, the truth is that if patients can’t book online straight away, they may well give up and go elsewhere.
A calm environment
Creating a calm and welcoming environment for patients can of course be attributed to décor and furnishings, but actually is much more about the people in the practice and how they behave. If the front desk team is under pressure and fractious, these feelings will be transmitted to patients, heightening anxiety and creating a tense environment.
A priority for top performing practices is to ensure front desk teams have the time and space to deal with patients who are in the practice, getting to know them and if necessary, calming their fears.
There are many ways of reducing pressure on the reception team by employing technology to take on some of the more mundane tasks.
Sending patients forms that can be electronically completed and returned direct from their mobile before the appointment, is one example of how technology can help ease the patient journey. Similarly, having automated self-check-in, using a scannable QR code on the patient’s phone when arriving at the practice is a simple, efficient and impressive solution, which eliminates the wait at reception.
Show them you care
What happens after an appointment can also have a huge impact on the success of a practice. Post-treatment communication is a vital part of your patient care credentials and sharing information about what patients should expect after a certain procedure, other treatment options that might be appropriate for them and following up on proposed treatment plans, all signify a practice that is efficient, well run and has patient care at its heart.
An end-to-end solution
Creating a seamless patient flow through the practice and meeting expectations at every stage is a new priority for dentists, but one that is becoming increasingly important. The immediate gratification that mobile and digital technology delivers means that consumers’ expectations are rising, and patients now demand the same type of experience in healthcare as they have come to expect in other areas of their lives.
The challenge now for dentists is to recognise the new needs of patients and introduce appropriate tools that can help streamline workflows, improve customer communication and free up time to focus on what’s really important – giving patients outstanding dental care.
For more information about Software of Excellence and how its solutions can help transform your patients’ journey, please visit softwareofexcellence.co.uk/patient-experience.