Why patient experience matters
Patient experience matters for a very simple reason: loyal patients not only value your services, but they’ll also bring in friends and family. The better your patient experience, the better chance you have of getting loyal patients.
What is a patient experience strategy?
A patient experience strategy is your plan to exceed patient expectations on every touchpoint and every channel that they come in contact with. The goal of designing your patient experience is to make it smooth and seamless so that you’re converting interested prospects into loyal advocates, who’ll not only buy your products and services but spread the word to friends and family.
The Patient experience intent statement
If you’re just getting started with patient experience strategy, consider writing a patient experience intent statement. This is a paragraph or two that conveys the experience that your business is looking to provide to patients.
Remember, a patient experience intent statement is not the same thing as a mission statement. While a mission statement talks about your high-level goals, a patient experience intent statement tells you how you aim to provide a fantastic experience across the entire patient journey.
While your patient experience intent statement should be realistic and practical, try to aim high. Instead of simply trying to satisfy your patients, make sure that they’re delighted. Remember, the ultimate goal is to turn your patients into loyal advocates.
Here’s an example of a patient experience intent statement:
Every time we interact with patients, we respond as promptly as possible and make sure that the conversation is not over until the question the patient has is resolved. That requires both listening to the patient and collaborating with fellow employees. We collect feedback from patients, both satisfied and dissatisfied, to better understand how we can exceed the expectations of our patient base.
5 pillars for patient experience strategy
Here are 5 areas that you can focus on in order to build a great patient experience strategy.
Easy to find
Remember, the patient journey starts from the moment of first discovery. So make sure that your business is easy to find on Google search.
A patient needs to be able to both find your business and understand how your services align with their desires. If a patient is looking for an “Italian restaurant”, it’s important that you both claim your listings across the Internet to make sure that they can find your business. It’s also important to collect reviews, so they can see social proof that you’re providing quality services.
Easy to reach
After the patient does some digging, chances are that they’ll find a couple of businesses that fit their needs. So how do you stand out and become the business they decide to go with?
The businesses that win are the businesses that offer easy options to get in contact. Make sure that your team is monitoring channels like live chat, text messaging, and Facebook Messenger. That way, you can get in contact with all of the prospects trying to reach your business.
Next, make sure that your business is offering convenience throughout the entire experience. In today’s digital era, patients have grown accustomed to seamless experiences and don’t want to deal with unnecessary frustrations.
Keep an eye on patient feedback so you can see if there’s any obstacles that are making your patient journey too hard to complete. Removing these obstacles can make your overall patient experience far smoother.
Personalization can help you build a stronger emotional connection with your patients. In order to personalize patient experiences, it’s important to keep a record of previous patient interactions. For example, if you’re a dental practice and one of your patients is due for an appointment you can send a message that says something like this:
“Hey (patient name), looks like you’re due for an appointment. Would you like to schedule something for next Saturday?”
A data silo can ruin your brand in the eyes of the patients. Many businesses have different teams handling different channels. The employees who greet your patients when they come for an in-person visit may not be the same employees who handle your Facebook Messenger. In turn, those employees might not be the same employees who handle your phone lines.
While these are all different teams, patients will see each interaction they have with a business as taking place with one brand. They expect that they’ll have the same great experience no matter how they come into contact with you. That’s why it’s important to adopt an omnichannel patient experience approach and make sure your team is staying on top of messages, no matter where they came from.
How to develop a patient experience strategy
Here are a few things that you should take into account when you’re building a patient experience strategy template.
Leverage patient Data
In order to build a great patient experience, it’s important to collect data on how your patients feel about every touchpoint of the patient journey. You can leverage this data in order to identify possible areas of improvement and build on areas where you’re already excelling.
To be sure that you’re providing the best patient experience in the area, it’s important to keep a close eye on what your competitors are doing. If there’s an area where they’re outperforming you, you need to know what you can do in order to improve.
Invest in collaboration tools
In order for your employees to be able to effectively serve all of your patients and prospects, they need to be able to work strongly as a team. Invest in tools that will help them collect feedback and stay on top of every contact channel.
Challenges in building a patient experience strategy
Of course, not every business is able to build a great patient experience strategy.
• Access to information
In order to build a successful patient experience strategy, it’s necessary to have data about what’s working and what’s not. Unfortunately, businesses often don’t have information from patients that they need to improve patient experience.
• Data silos
Often, a patient experience strategy is hurt when data silos take place in different departments. In order for a patient experience strategy to be successful, it needs to be omnichannel.
The patient experience landscape is shifting quickly. While it may have been okay ten years ago to not monitor text messages and Facebook messages, that is definitely not the case anymore. In order to provide a great patient experience, businesses need to make sure that they’re keeping up with technological changes.
Patient experience mapping
The first step to developing a patient experience strategy (or patient experience framework) is mapping what your patient experience is like. After all, you can’t make improvements to the patient experience process until you understand the patient journey from start to finish.
So how can you build a patient experience map? The first step is collecting data on your patients. Make sure that you understand their feelings throughout the process.
Here are four ways you can start mapping your patient experience.
Make sure that your business is easy to reach. If prospects are having trouble contacting your business, chances are that they will just go to one of your competitors instead.
Remember, channels like phone and email are becoming increasingly saturated over time. That makes it important for you to invest in tools like text messaging software that make it easy for you to cut through the noise and reach your patients.
Online review monitoring
By monitoring your online reviews, you can keep track of what your patients are saying across the Internet. Keep a close eye on your overall star rating, as it can be an accurate gauge of overall patient opinion.
It’s also important to pay attention to review text. This can give you a great idea about what patients are complaining about and praising in your current patient experience.
While the big sites like Google and Facebook are where most patients go, it’s important to pay attention to review sites within your specific niche.
Of course, online reviews aren’t the only type of patient feedback that you can collect. When you send a patient survey, you can get feedback on specific areas of the patient journey. A real estate agent can send client surveys after major milestones, in order to get a better idea of how the patient feels throughout the sales process.
One survey you should consider sending is a net promoter score (NPS) survey. Net promoter score is an easy way for you to find out how your patients feel about your business. It works like this: your patients are asked to select how they feel about your business on a scale of 0-10.
Collecting competitive insights
But remember, it’s also important to start collecting data on your competitors. Obviously, it’s a little bit harder to do this. After all, it’s not easy to survey your competitors’ patients the same way you can survey your own.
Luckily, there is an easier way. Keep an eye out on your competitors’ online reviews. Remember, reviews are authentic feedback from patients. By looking at your competitors’ reviews you should be able to understand their patient experience.
If one of your competitors has a higher overall star rating than you, keep an eye out and see the areas where patients are praising them. If a competitor is consistently getting praised because of “short wait times”, it might be a good idea to explore options to cut down on your own wait time.