It’s a common misconception that a patient’s experience in a medical facility is formed solely by their appointment. While care is an essential part of a customer’s perception, there are many other factors that influence their experience that a facility should consider. This can be done by constructing a “patient’s experience journey.”
What’s the patient experience journey?
The patient’s experience journey is the complete sum of experiences that they go through when interacting with your facility. The ideal way to address all of the factors that go into a patient’s experience is to map out their journey from before they even make their appointment until after they leave. This allows medical staff to gain an understanding of each step a patient takes that can impact their perception.
How do I map out their journey?
Consider every part of a patient’s journey that can impact how they feel about your facility. Here are some basics to consider:
- Step 1: Finding out about your facility
- Step 2: Scheduling an appointment
- Step 3: Getting to your facility
- Step 4: Signing in, interaction with front office staff, and waiting to be seen
- Step 5: Receiving care
- Step 6: Getting a post-appointment follow-up
Depending on your practice and your specific facility, your patient experience journey map may change and you may have additional steps.
Next, it’s important to evaluate each of these steps and determine what your facility is doing well and where there is room for improvement. You might be faced with the following questions:
Step 1: How do patients find me?
While you can’t completely control how a patient finds you, you can make sure that your website is up-to-date and that you have a strong online presence to make your facility appealing from the beginning. But that could also mean having accurate information on the insurance provider’s website, both about the facility as well as for all the caring physicians.
Step 2: What should we keep in mind while making appointments?
Make sure the person scheduling the appointment is courteous and friendly. Scheduling should also be easy to do. They should also make reminder calls to ensure that the patient remembers their appointment and knows that you value their visit.
Step 3: What can I control about them getting there?
If your facility is not easy to find, whoever makes the appointment should give the patient directions and details to help them find it easily. There should also be ample parking nearby, but if not, again your staff member making the appointment can help direct them to the best parking area. And special needs patients will need additional help too.
Step 4: How do we impact their experience while they’re waiting to be seen?
Make sure your waiting room is clean, has ample seating, some latest magazines or TV, and that your staff is wearing clean medical uniforms in Tennessee (or wherever you are located). Also be sure that your staff is welcoming so that the patient feels comfortable upon walking in – making eye contact, smiling, and welcoming them goes a long way, and not everyone remembers this basic human courtesy!
Step 5: What should I consider during the appointment?
The exam room should be well lit, clean, and prepped. All linens, including nurse scrubs in Tennessee (and other locations), should be clean and presentable. The physician should be friendly and informative, and give comprehensive care that makes the patient feel truly valued. Communication is big.
Step 6: What can affect the patient experience after the appointment?
Staff members should communicate the next steps, set the follow-up appointment if needed, help sign them or, or help with billing and insurance procedures and follow up with the patient after they leave. A follow-up call a few days later adds a nice touch.
This is not an exhaustive list, but should get you started. Nothing will beat patient feedback when it comes to refining your service level. Or do what other industries do and get a “secret shopper” to help build the map and identify areas of improvements.
While there are many other factors that impact the patient experience, consider all of this when making your own patient journey map and seeing what you can do to leave them with a remarkable impression.