Many medical practice administrators don't understand the intricacies involved in revenue cycle management processes. When they fail to explain to patients the financial side of their visits, patient get annoyed when receiving a statement. Consequently, the patient loses confidence and switch to other providers, leaving practice managers in the dark as to why.
Patients don't understand medical billing complexity because most medical administrators and practitioners do not explain them in clearer terms. Medical administrators and practitioners need to thinking like a patient.
How can medical practices bridge this gap and grow their patient base?
Firstly it is to leverage community education to keep your practice top of mind and grow your patient base. Secondly, its ongoing education for the staff and management to stay abreast of the tools that make it easy for them to communicate these complexities that are easily understood. Practitioners need to think like their patients.
Here are five tips to keep your practice top of mind and grow your patient base.
1. Create a Patient-Friendly Website
Most medical practitioners approach website design from a practice perspective and a functional perspective. The problem with this approach is; what about the poor patient, the one the website should be designed for? Their perspective is entirely different, and for a website to contribute to growth, it needs to be patient-friendly, which means thinking like a patient.
Consider how you go online and search for information. No doubt you enter a question into google and receive the answer you are looking for. This is no different for your patients, they want specific questions answered, and they want to find the answer easily. It’s imperative that your website is patient friendly by asking the following questions:
- What questions do your patients ask on google?
- Does your website rank high enough on google for patients to see your answers?
- Once they click on your website, is the website easy to navigate.
- Is the information written in layman’s terms, not practitioner terminology?
- Is the information easy to find and understand?
- If they find the answers they need, is it easy for them to contact you?
- Are you allowing patients to pay via your website?
Ensure that critical information about your practice is easy to find, and common questions are answered in a user friendly and informative manner by thinking like a patient.
2. Assess How Welcoming Your Reception Area or Front Desk
Anytime you meet a person for the first time, you have an immediate first impression within five seconds. This is no different when a patient enters your office. Is your office warm and welcoming and all maintenance up to scratch?
When you enter your office every day, it’s easy to overlook the dead plant in the corner, the small stain on the carpet, uncomfortable seats, and outdated magazines. If this was the case, think like a patient and assess what your first impression would be?
First impressions do count, and the next time you and your team step into the office, instead of going straight to your workspace, look around and think like a patient. Approach the receptionist and see how you are greeted. Sit down in the chairs and assess how comfortable they are. Look at the walls, are they pleasantly decorated with colors that alleviate patient stress and worry? Do you offer refreshments like tea and coffee, and are the magazine and reading material age-appropriate and targeted towards your ideal patients?
3. Review How Are Phone Calls Handled
Have you ever had that experience where you are put on hold, and you hold, and hold, and hold and eventually hang up. Have you ever had that experience where you catch a robot on the other end of the phone, and you have to go through mountains of push this number, then that number on pre-recorded automated messages until you finally get to talk to a human? Consider how often a patient lead is lost due to poor customer phone service.
Think like a patient and call your practice as if you are the patient to determine how your call is handled. How well incoming phone calls are handled also creates an impression and critical to converting a call into an appointment. It won’t matter how technically sound your patient care is if incoming phone calls don’t result in appointments.
Ensure your people are trained in answering phone calls and well prepared to answer frequently answered questions so that they are equipped to succeed and keep patient callers engaged.
4. Offer Ongoing Community Education
Forming a relationship with anyone depends on establishing rapport and effective ongoing communication. Medical care shouldn’t always be reactive, and patients make an appointment only when they are sick or worried about the signs and symptoms of something that might be wrong.
Think like a patient and what you would like to know about the intricacies of insurance, billing, options in the marketplace, prevention, and cure. Establish yourself as an expert with ongoing community education by providing resources that are likely to help your patients. Offer a weekly newsletter or blog that keeps patients informed of a suggested timeline for flu shots, annual checkups, and post general health and wellness tips that add value to their quality of life. Think like a patient and explain in simple language how medical billing works or offer an expert from M-Scribe Medical Billing to run a webinar and question and answer session to answer common questions about patient billing.
Get personal; anytime you have a new staff member join or one leave, highlight their best attributes because people relate to people, and it adds the human touch in this day of smartphones and social media. Remember, people buy from people even for a medical practice.
5. Assess Your Follow Up Procedures
Statistically, it costs five times more to attract a new patient than retain an existing one.
A follow-up phone call from a doctor goes a long way to stay in rapport with your patients. Think like a patient and what a simple phone call from a doctor instead of a nurse or receptionist means to them. When patients feel a doctor cares enough to take time out of their busy day to call them, they love that personal touch and retain them as loyal followers and patients. This approach ultimately leads to referral patients as people trust their friends’ advice over a static website or advertisement.
When you think like a patient, you are more likely to attract new patients and retain existing patients and grow your practice exponentially.
M-Scrive helps medical practices with medical coding, provider credentialing, payer contract review, and accounts receivable, giving you more time to concentrate on what you do best. Contact us today by calling us at 770-666-0470 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out exactly how we add value to your medical practice with productivity tools that improve your patient retention and profitability.