I file myself under the category of pretty lucky. My family and I don’t often have to go to see a medical professional, generally it is for annual routine visits, well-child appointments, and the very rare — less than annual — sick visit.
Recently, I went for a physical at my family practitioner's office, who sold the practice to one of the local, large health conglomerates.
I watched patient after patient check in; some argued and some did not. I could not help but notice what the practice was doing right and what could be streamlined, just by observation of the patient check-in and check-out process.
Here is what is going right:
• There is a clear partition that is open unless the receptionist is on the phone.
• There is a smiling face greeting people.
• They are accepting complete payment at check-out, which gives a much better patient experience — rather than requesting copays prior to the appointment and the balance due at the end of the visit.
• The waiting room is quiet and clean.
• They have free Wi-Fi.
• They have minimal waiting time.
Here is what could be done better:
• Each and every time you come in the clinic you have to present your ID and insurance card. This costs staff time and is obviously annoying to the patients.
• Each time you give your ID and insurance card and staff scan them into the practice management system, you are paying for storage of that repetitive data.
• Each and every time the receptionist is required to ask for the cards, scan them, and call the patient back up to the window, which prevents her from attending to the other patients coming in the door.
• The Wi-Fi you are paying for does not allow patients to access their e-mail, social media, or Skype — what else do you with your Internet? It is excellent to have, but not a valuable service for patients and guests if it's not accessible.
Not too shabby overall; but there is room for improvement. Where can you save in your practice and make things easier for your patients?