By Kathy Roy Gaughran
Senior Marketing Strategist
In the business of healthcare, the level of care you provide will always be the most important thing. However, that doesn’t mean that doctors, hospitals, and practice groups should ignore those “little” things that can make or break a patient’s experience.
These 5 seemingly small details can mean stronger reviews, better word-of-mouth, and, ultimately, better patient conversions AND patient retention.
1. Waiting room design
Ideally, patients wouldn’t have to spend too much time in your waiting room. (In fact, we interviewed someone who was able to reduce patient wait times to less than two minutes!)
But no matter how long patients sit in your waiting room, they’ll notice the little things. If the seats are uncomfortable or full of rips and tears, if the bathroom trash can is overflowing, if the place smells overly sterile (or not clean enough), patients care. It may be just the thing that sends them in another direction the next time they need care.
On the other hand, patients take note when an office environment is clean and modern. Reupholstering chairs and auditing your cleaning crew is a great place to start if you want to make a change. But a bit more innovation can grow your word-of-mouth and keep patients coming back!
2. Reminders for appointments
A HIPAA-compliant email or text-based appointment reminder system can make a major difference. According to a recent study by SolutionReach, there is an optimal patient appointment reminder system that can increase patient confirmations by 156%.
Give patients a helpful email reminder 3 weeks before an appointment, 3 days before an appointment, and 3 hours prior to appointment time. You can see SolutionReach’s informative ebook for more.
3. Office hours
Having trouble getting patients to book an appointment? Maybe it’s your office hours. Patients appreciate the opportunity to book an appointment before or after typical work and school hours. Not only does it allow a busy working parent to schedule a convenient time; it also improves confidence in your care, showing patients you value their time.
Of course, this can be difficult for single-provider locations. In this case, many doctors choose just one or two days a week to stay open later or schedule early appointments. For specialty services, some providers keep one or two Saturdays a month open for consultations.
4. Remembering personal details
A good doctor knows how much patients appreciate when physicians spend a little extra time to get to know them. However, that’s not always easy to do on a busy schedule. Still, remembering just one or two small details about a patient can help instill confidence that you value their personal well-being and are tailoring your care to their best interest.
Jot down small details after an appointment (in a HIPAA compliant manner) to show that you’re paying attention. Next time, follow up on health information but ask about something “small” as well: “How did your daughter’s first day of school turn out?” “Is the construction coming along on your home?” Soon, it can become second nature to you.
5. Website Speed
There was a time when we were all accustomed to waiting seconds or even minutes for a website to appear. Now, however, we all expect a website to load almost instantly. Whether or not it’s conscious, patients grow less patient by the second when a website takes longer than 5 seconds to load.
The fact is that patients have options. If there is anything frustrating about your website, if the speed inhibits their ability to get your contact info or doctor bio, for example, they can simply give up and move on to the next closest specialist or primary care physician.
Improving your website speed and user experience is a relatively simple way to improve patient conversions. It can even improve your position in the search engines. We recommend auditing and updating your website every 1-2 years, at least, to ensure yours is up-to-date.