Patient Access: Does Your Practice Have It?

August 1, 2015

Getting patients in the door is critical to your practice's success. Are you doing everything you can to make this happen?

A mentor of mine tasked me a few months ago with finding new ways to get patients in the door. Not necessarily new patients, which would require some marketing, but just making the practice more accessible. It was a really eye-opening exercise that I would love to share with you, and strongly suggest you do the same for your practice.

1. Brainstorming

List 100 ways your practice can be more accessible and get patients in the door.

2. Expectations

Come up with five to 10 ways your practice can be more accessible to patients, and then complete the requirements for each proposed task.

3. Process

That's it. Just go with it. Start writing anything that comes to mind. The first 20 or so ideas are going to be really obvious, and things everyone is doing or thinking about. Some examples might be:

•Invite patients in to the practice.

•Show patients the value you provide.

•Provide an online calendar that sends appointment notifications, so patients do not miss their visits.

The next few ideas could get a little silly. One of mine was "bake each patient a loaf of banana bread." I make a really good one that I learned in my Gram's kitchen, so it seemed logical to me.

Just keep pushing and going. This is where things could get interesting. You may find you have one idea that morphs into another and another, these are the golden nuggets.  Don't get frustrated if you repeat a few, just know that is one to go back and look at later. 

Some of my better ones were:

• "Is there any reason you cannot come in right now?"

• Extend live-person phone hours from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. to schedule patients.

• Send billing representatives into your offices and ask patients if they have any questions regarding their insurance benefits, claims processing, or their cost-share.

• Have an icon on your website that patients can click to "speak with a customer service representative," that allows them to contact an actual employee in your company who can answer administrative questions.

• Review all front-office and scheduling procedures and job descriptions to ensure your practice is creating an atmosphere where staff can get patients on the schedule as soon as possible.

If you end up with five to 10 new ways to make sure you are keeping your schedule full, you've successfully completed the task. It's a good idea to run this list by some trusted colleagues/employees; ones that are open minded and understand the value in keeping your practice up to date and competitive in the marketplace.

4. Implementation

Once you've picked out your gems, it's time to dig in and figure out how you are going to implement these changes. You will find that some will be easy, some may require part-time help. You may even find that a person in a current position will not handle the change well -something to consider in the overall health of your practice.

There are no limits to this task, so get creative. Have fun with this, and you will find that there are so many areas that can be improved upon and created that will allow your patients to see you in a timely manner, and enjoy their entire experience with your practice.