How to create a stellar patient experience in your clinic


According to McKinsey’s latest Consumer Health Insights (CHI) Survey, 53% of patients said that they valued customer service in a healthcare provider and that they held clinics to the same high standards as other service providers. In fact, customer service ranked second only to coverage when describing the features of the perfect healthcare company, and cost came third, at only 7%.

Now more than ever, healthcare providers need to understand that the perfect in-clinic experience is more than just providing the right treatment, but also about making patients feel that they matter, that they are safe and cared for. Failing to do this can have long-reaching consequences. Statistics show that one satisfied patient can recommend you to 4 more other patients, whereas one single unsatisfied patient can reach 10 more other patients – and this can severely affect your credibility.

So how can you prevent this from happening and what measures should you take to make sure patients have a stellar experience in your clinic? It all starts to instilling a patient-first culture.

Develop a patient-first mentality

Like any business, your clinic should have an ethical organizational culture and the patient should be in the center. Every aspect of your clinic, from its design and location to the medical equipment and the healthcare staff, should be chosen based on the patient’s needs. Healthcare is a challenging field and many times professionals tend to put themselves first, but for your clinic to thrive, the attention must be shifted to the patient.

What experience do patients have in your clinic? Does the staff offer them everything they can to make them feel more at ease? Do they feel lucky to be your patient or will they change providers as soon as they can? Whenever you make a decision regarding your clinic, you have to think about how it would impact the patient first, and then consider all the other factors.

Eliminate fear, uncertainty, and doubt

When patients have to see a healthcare provider, they are already in a sensitive situation. They may feel uncomfortable, worried, afraid, sometimes even downright angry and, with this mindset, even a minor inconvenience can trigger a bad experience. For this reason, addressing the feelings of fear, uncertainty, and doubt is essential in making customers feel cared for.

Put yourself in your patients’ shoes. What mood are they in when entering your clinic and what can you do to improve it? For example, if a woman comes in for her annual mammogram, she may feel anxious, scared, or uncomfortable because this procedure causes pain. While you cannot change the way she experiences pain during the procedure, you can make the experience more pleasant if the staff is calm, warm, and reassuring.

Sometimes, patients can even change their mood as soon as they step into your clinic. If they are greeted by a positive receptionist and the doctor is ready to see them in five minutes, then they are more likely to be satisfied compared to being treated with indifference and waiting in line for hours.

To a certain extent, the interior design can influence the patient experience, which is why more and more modern clinics are trying to steer away from the typical hospital design, which seems cold and impersonal.

Boost efficiency and convenience

When you need professional healthcare services, contacting your provider shouldn’t be a burden. To enhance the patient experience, every interaction should run smoothly and involve as little effort as possible from the patient’s part.

It all starts with phone interactions, and this is where tools such as Weave have become essential assets for modern clinics because they streamline patient communication. According to a recent study, only 32% of patients will call back if they are placed on hold, so it’s important to call or text back as soon as possible. Why text? Because 77% of consumers are more likely to prefer texts over calls. Texts are also the channel of choice for sending automated reminders.

Although the efficiency of the treatment and the doctor-patient relationship are two major factors that influence the patient experience, there are other details you should look at too. Even something seemingly minor, such as available parking lots near the clinic can change the patient’s perception.

Be personal

Being personal and talking with heart doesn’t cost anything, but it can boost customer experience tremendously. As we mentioned before, patients often visit clinics feeling vulnerable, so treating them with care and compassion can go a long way.

Patients aren’t just a chart or a list of symptoms. They are human beings who need to be treated with all the attention they deserve in this stressful period. Treating patients in a personal and considerate manner isn’t important just for PR, but for the entire medical experience as a whole. Experts suggest that understanding the patient as an individual and addressing their concerns can shorten hospital stays and even influence treatment efficiency.

Even if sometimes patients or their families can be overly demanding, panicked, or even aggressive, ignoring their concerns or answering in a condescending manner will only make matters worse. Instead, be polite, and try to add a personal touch to every interaction. Even one minor detail, such as knowing their age or address when they call for an appointment can enhance the experience.

Don’t fear feedback

Sometimes, if a surgery goes well or the patient responds well to the treatment, healthcare professionals assume that the patient had a positive experience. However, the success of the treatment only tells one part of the story and doesn’t define the complete patient experience.

Yes, you maybe you performed the dental implant surgery flawlessly, but what do patients think about the rest of the experience? Did they like the clinic’s facilities or the way the receptionist treated them? How long did they wait in line until the dentist saw them and how easy was it to find a parking spot near the clinic? All of these may sound minor but, when choosing between two equally skilled healthcare providers, patients will always choose the one that offered them convenience and personal treatment.

When asking for feedback from your customers, avoid questions that can be answered with a yes or no. So, instead of saying “Were you happy with your experience at our clinic” say “What did you like most about our clinic?” or “What can we do to improve your experience next time?”. These open-ended questions will bring you actionable, constructive feedback.

Photo by Richard Catabay on Unsplash