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A great patient access experience is made up of several factors implemented consistently across the board.
Creating an optimal patient access experience is necessary for every healthcare organization. Though, the benchmark of success is not how you feel your process works. It’s how the patient feels and experiences interactions with your office.
For these purposes, we are defining Patient Access as referring to the availability of healthcare, the ability of consumers to access care and treatment.
A great patient access experience is made up of several factors implemented consistently across the board. Here are several tips for mapping the patient access experience to be a successful one.
When a patient communicates with your office, the conversation sets the tone for how the experience will go. Start by greeting the patient by name. It instantly creates a connection with the person on the other end of the phone.
Second, use the patient’s preferred method of communication. Do they prefer to be called, emailed, or sent a text? This attention to detail makes it more convenient for a patient to respond and helps to avoid frustration if they want to speak with someone live.
For every patient interaction, there’s a fine line of passive and proactive communication. Active listening helps to anticipate patient needs. Also, when there’s access to their medical history readily available, it prevents the patient from having to repeat their health history or explain their same concerns.
Anticipating needs allows team members to be proactive in following up with extended care. Whether it’s to check on how a patient is responding to medication or scheduling an appointment with an in-network specialist, anticipating patient needs makes the overall experience more beneficial.
It’s important to establish a process with a team that is well-versed and trained to take on the multi-faceted concerns and requests of patient care. It’s also equally essential that the people answering the phones have the knowledge, insight, and empathy to engage with each caller and help them get what they need.
Like with anything else, people want immediate access. They do not want to experience long hold times or be transferred from person to person before reaching a solution. They want matters handled on a single call, with one person, at the time that’s most convenient to them.
When mapping an optimal patient access experience, the goal is to act as a concierge for each caller and provide personalized solutions based on their unique needs. Ensure no call goes unanswered and every patient speaks with a knowledgeable, compassionate member of your team no matter the day or time they’re calling.
Increase accessibility for patients to have a human interaction versus leaving a voicemail or being directed to an automated system. Providing each caller what they need, when they need it elevates every interaction and delivers the kind of experience patients deserve.
Once you’ve performed your due diligence of creating the best possible patient access experience, implement ways to measure its success. Closely monitor and respond to online reviews, even ones that showcase isolated or atypical patient experiences. Patients look for practices that are responsive and reassuring.
Build in ways to survey patients and measure satisfaction to ensure what you put in place is delivering what you intended. This can be achieved through means such as an email follow-up linked to a short survey or through a simple comment card setup in the office. The feedback you receive from patients serves as guidance to alter any areas that may need improvement and/or allows you to recognize your staff for a job well done.