25 Ways to Improve the Patient Experience (Part II)In this week’s episode, we share another 25 ways you can elevate your patients’ experience to a whole new level. Since Part I of our 25 Ways to Improve the Patient Experience, that brings the total to 50 actionable items you can start implementing at your practice to attract new patients and retain the ones you’ve got.

A patient’s perceived overall experience is the #1 factor for whether you’ll receive a 2-star or 5-star review and whether that patient chooses to come back (or not). And that experience is most influenced not by a massive marketing budget but by focusing on what your patients really need and delivering it.

Your patients want to be heard. They want easy, simple, and quick access to your practice whether it’s making appointments, tracking down records, or transparent billing. They want to be treated with kindness, understanding, and empathy. If you don’t put your best foot forward at every turn, more than a few patients will slip through the cracks and leave you behind.

Tune in to discover:

  • Simple and effective customer service 101 tips that will make a BIG difference to your patients and your bottom line
  • How to improve your patients’ experience when visiting online review sites
  • What to do and what not to do on social media
  • Why giving your patients a “peek behind the curtain” can elevate your connection with them

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Get Your Free 2019 Marketing Strategy Template & How-to Guide

Take the first step to successfully attract and retain patients in 2019 with a detailed plan for getting your practice in front of the right patient, in the right place at exactly the moment they are looking for you.

Download Now

Get Your Free 2019 Marketing Strategy Template & How-to Guide

Take the first step to successfully attract and retain patients in 2019 with a detailed plan for getting your practice in front of the right patient, in the right place at exactly the moment they are looking for you.

Download Now

Transcript Notes

Speaker 1: Dr. Marketing Tips. Paging, Dr. Marketing Tips. Dr. Marketing Tips, you are needed in the marketing department.

Speaker 2: Welcome to the Dr. Marketing Tips Podcast, your prescription to the answers you seek to grow your medical practice easier, better and faster. This show is all about connecting practice administrators and medical marketing professionals with peers working in practices, learning from experiences, making mistakes and sharing successes. Let’s get started.

Jennifer: Hey there. Welcome to the Dr. Marketing Tips Podcast. I’m Jennifer.

Corey: And I’m Corey.

Jennifer: And we are back again this week to talk about 20, 25 ways that you can improve patient experience at your practice. So a couple of weeks ago we outlined some things that you could do at your practice to improve patient experience and we’ve got a big list of some real actionable items that you can begin implementing or start thinking about implementing at your practice that we’re going to add to this week. And then in the next couple of weeks, we’ll have a couple of additional episodes where you can get this full list and really hit the ground running as it relates to improving your overall patient experience at your practice. So let’s go ahead and dive right into it. Corey, we’ve got a handful of things that relate to online reviews and patient feedback and how we can change the patient experience in these areas. Let’s go ahead and right into it. What’s your first tip for our listeners?

Corey: Sure. So in the last part of the series we talked about some things you can do to improve your website and the front desk. And both of those kind of apply to the thing that we’re going to start this episode with, which is online reviews and patient feedback. So I think number one tip is just have correct information on your online review sites. So when we say online review sites, we’re talking about the things like Health Grades, Vitals, Rate MDs, Google, Yelp, all of those. But it’s important to claim the practice there and then make sure the information’s correct. When we say information, we’re specifically referring to your hours, your location, phone number, subspecialties. Sometimes we’ll see that the specialties, they sort of get chosen, it seems almost at random. Like we’ve worked with some podiatrists that are listed as chiropractors and just silly things like that. So just make sure that you’ve got all those things correct and claimed would be my first tip.

Jennifer: Yeah, and I think that’s a great tip, especially when you consider the patient journey today often starts with these online review sites and also ends with these online review sites. I will jump on top of that and in addition to making sure all the information is correct and maybe doing an inventory once a quarter just to make sure that all your info is correct, really probably twice a year because a lot of these sites pull from the National MPI database and that comes twice a year. And then Danielle has often pointed out to us, because she handles this for a lot of our clients, she’ll point out to us that the bigger sites will be like the mothership of information and they’re pulling from the MPI database. And then kind of the smaller sites that might show up on page two and three of Google are actually pulling their info from the larger sites. And so if you have to figure out what your best plan of attack is, if you only have so much time in the day to check your information online, start with the stuff that’s on that first, maybe second page of Google, and then work your way from there.

Jennifer: My piece of advice is to make sure that you are offering timely responses to patients or potential patients and responding to positive and negative reviews online. And that’s important, one, because if it’s a negative review we want to take that conversation offline as quickly as possible. But if it’s a positive review, we also want to thank people for that positive review. And it’s important to do all this in a timely manner, because if it’s negative, somebody could, and I actually saw this over the weekend, got like nine different alerts for one particular doctor and it looked to be the same person responding or posting reviews across the internet. But you want to be timely so that your potential patients are able to see that you’re being timely in this process. So I think that’s really … These are two good pieces of advice for improving or just managing this whole patient experience.

Corey: Yeah, I mean, everybody wants to be heard, right? Everybody wants to feel acknowledged and that’s one of the reasons why people go and leave reviews, either positive or negative on these sites is because they want to share their experience and hopefully it’s a good one that they’re sharing and that’s why it’s important to respond to those, just as it’s important to respond to the negative ones.

Jennifer: Absolutely.

Corey: Alright, so my tip would be make sure that you’ve got current photos of your provider. So sometimes, especially when we start working with a practice, we’ll see that a lot of the providers are, let’s say … They look a little different than they do in their head shots. Maybe they’ve got a little less hair, maybe they’re a little bit larger, or thinner. But either way, you want to make sure that the photos on these websites represent not only your practice and your office, but also the provider. So if you’re looking at … Like if you Google your practice, a lot of times on the right side of that page you’ll see some information about the practice, your hours, and reviews and things like that. But you also see a handful of photos there. So you want to make sure that the photos that Google is pulling and some of these other websites are pulling are not only current of your providers, but also of your office.

Corey: So even if … We’ve actually worked with some practices before where they’ve gone through a complete remodel, but some of the photos that show up are older. And so you just want to make sure that everything that is online is kind of putting your beset foot forward and that’s from the office to the providers to the staff to any other logo changes, anything like that, you just want all of that to be as current as possible.

Jennifer: Absolutely. And I think kind of my next tip kind of just stems off of that and that is that if you’re going to talk about valuing patient feedback at your practice and you’re going to put all this energy into maintaining and promoting these positive and negative reviews and really dive into that social customer service or that customer service side, you really should be able to walk to talk. And what I mean by that is you should have a system in place that’s visible for your patients, asking them for this feedback. Don’t be one of these practices that only asks for feedback from your positive patients because you’re trying to hide something online that you don’t want people to see. Ask for patient feedback from everybody. So provide them a system for providing you their anonymous or non-anonymous feedback directly to you, whether it’s comment cards or cards that you give to your patients, showing them where they can go. I would certainly recommend that you are kind of walking the talk by having a feedback page on your website, that you have signage throughout your office showing the patients what they can do if they want to get a customer service issue resolved. But I really think it’s important to walk to talk if you’re going to really try to encourage online reviews and patient feedback, you’ve got to be willing to hear the good and the bad.

Corey: Yeah. You can’t be afraid of what the patients are going to say. Like you said, I think it’s important to walk that talk. And also like what we were just talking about a few minutes ago is everybody wants to be heard. So if you provide these opportunities, you’ll be surprised. I mean, Jen, what would you say most of the practices that we work with, it’s 85 to 90 percent positive reviews we typically get back? Is that right?

Jennifer: It’s right at 87 percent. I just checked that number the other day. Yes.

Corey: Nice, I didn’t even plan that.

Jennifer: Yeah, absolutely. And so I also think now is a good time to just mention, if you are focused on online reviews and patient feedback and you’re really concerned about what people are saying about you online, as a practice administrator you’re probably getting bombarded because we see the emails. You’re getting bombarded by these services that offer to fix this for you. There is no fix to negative responses and to a patient’s perceived experience. The fix is by going to the root of the problem and that means investing in your employees and investing in a system that is transparent for your patients. Because if you really want to improve the patient experience, you got to get to the root of the issue and that issue is how the patient is a) perceiving their experience at your practice, and b) how your employees and your providers are interacting with patients. If you’re getting a lot of one, two, three star reviews, there is some kind of disconnect that needs to be addressed.

Jennifer: If you like what you’re hearing and need some help marketing your medical practice this year, be sure to check us at at insightmg.com. That’s insight, M, as in marketing, G, as in group, dot com. Don’t think you’ve got a budget for this kind of stuff? Think again. We’ve got you covered. Make sure you schedule a free consult today.

Corey: Yeah, I’m not going to name any names, obviously, but we work with an ENT practice and at one of their locations for a good six months now, someone, I would say maybe every other week leaves a negative review about how rude someone is at the front desk. And we’ve brought this to their attention for months and they have chosen to not do anything about it. And so the negative reviews keep coming in and they ask us every now and then “What can we do about it?” And we all know the answer because we’ve been provided the feedback, we have a lot of data that someone is just not a very nice person at the front desk. So these reviews can be very instructive, not only from an HR side, but also from a patient experience side.

Jennifer: Yeah, and I don’t want to harp on this too much, but I saw one come through this morning when I got up out of bed around 4:00 and I’m looking and I saw a notification for one of our clients, large ortho group, that got a one star review from a potential patient who was calling and trying to schedule an appointment. She was on hold for eight minutes. Well, that eight minutes frustrated her enough to go leave a one star review and you can do everything we’ve talked about up until this piece of the conversation, right now. You can do everything out there to improve patient experience, but if you’re not willing to invest in improving that customer service experience at the ground level, which is phone etiquette, timely response to answering the phone, proper follow-up, saying it with a smile, if you’re not willing to invest in that, all this other stuff doesn’t matter.

Corey: Absolutely. I couldn’t agree more.

Jennifer: Let’s keep it going, because we could talk about this forever. So how can you improve patient experience as it relates to kind of the engagement and self-promotion that takes place on social media today, in the areas of Facebook and Instagram and Snapchat and those areas, how can you really perceive and help guide that patient experience on those channels?

Corey: Okay, so real quick, 30 seconds, the state of social media today for medical practices. There’s no room on the newsfeed on a lot of these platforms. So a lot of people are not seeing what you post. So it doesn’t matter if you post five times a day because you’re going to get six people to look at it out of your 6,000 fans, unless you have engagement, which is what Jen was alluding to there. So one of the ways to build this engagement is to provide authentic communications across all of these platforms. So where should you be? Probably Facebook and Instagram, I would say that’s where if you have limited time, limited budget, that’s where you should spend your time. And what should you be posting? Well, you want to post some obviously treatment procedures, things like that, about the office and the practice itself, but what you really want to focus on are authentic communications.

Corey: So authentic communications can be anything from what the staff is up to, what the physicians are doing. You want to show results, so anything that’s sort of patient-forward. For example, we just did a big promotion with a physical therapy group and they … Each one of their clinics send a couple of photos a day of happy patients once they completed their therapy. Those do very well because, one, it positions your practice as the experts. But it’s also real results, it’s a real story. And those things do so much better than some canned piece of stock art.

Jennifer: Yeah, and I … You go onto the whole side of being authentic, I think authenticity speaks volumes. Corey, you and I were just talking about this before we even started this episode. So we’re recording this episode on April second, and yesterday was April Fool’s Day and we have a provider who is a fertility doctor and this fertility doctor is very empathetic towards his patients with their struggle with infertility. And so a lot of the times, most of the times, the marketing message is tying in that authenticity with the empathy he has for those patients. So we put together a real simple social post that said “Hey, today on April Fool’s let’s be mindful of all the families out there struggling.” So if people are using social media to say “Oh, I’m pregnant,” and at the end they’re like “Oh, April Fool’s,” just to be mindful of those people.

Jennifer: And I was just sharing with Corey this morning, I actually already had a conversation with Danielle about this post because it’s done so well, he has … We only put $10 behind it and then he was more than 70,000 people that he reached and almost 900 shares and something like 155 comments and just the numbers went on and on and it was huge for him. But the only reason that it worked is because it was authentic and it really drove home the empathy that we drive for him all the time. And that helps from a patient experience and the perception that helps drive that messaging home so that when they end up in his practice, that empathy will just exude into that experience. So that’s all part of that marketing program. So I just can’t say enough that authentic communication is the way to go on social media.

Jennifer: Back to kind of my next tip is we mentioned it when we were talking about online reviews or patient feedback. You’ve got to be timely to your responses and to inquiries on social. I’ll go back to this IVF doctor, fertility doctor. He’s fantastic in that he will immediately respond or say “Thanks for the comment,” or “Thanks for sharing your story,” or they’ll have people that will reach out to them on instant message that are trying to get an appointment scheduled and they’re very quick. There’s nothing worse than seeing a practice where a potential patient has reached out and they have to reach out a second, maybe a third time to try to get a response. So being timely to those inquiries really does impact the patient experience because you don’t want the patient coming to the practice for the first time already having a negative experience online.

Corey: Yeah, and again, you want to be heard. So if you post a message or send a direct message or whatever, then you want a response. You expect one, especially in this day and age. Most people, they interact with businesses and brands through social media and when you do that, you expect some sort of response. And just because you’re a medical practice doesn’t mean that you can ignore those things.

Jennifer: Absolutely. What’s your next couple tips here, Corey?

Corey: Alright, so the next one that I had, similar to what we were talking about with the online review sites, is just make sure that your information’s correct. So a lot of times on the social platforms, the information’s actually … It’s not pulled from any sort of a database, which means that if it’s wrong, it’s your fault and there’s no one else you can blame. So you might want to do a little bit of CYA action there and make sure that you have the correct ours, correct websites. And if you are linking to other social platforms, make sure that you have the proper links in there. There’s nothing worse than having all of your information correct, or you think it’s correct anyway, and then when someone goes to actually click on something, you wind up with a dead link. So just make sure that all your T’s are crossed and your I’s are dotted.

Jennifer: Good advice. I think that my next piece of advice is just to use appropriate photos. And so I think it kind of goes back to how you were saying to make sure you have current photos of your providers and whatnot. This plays into social as well. But I think that we see this … We have a hand surgeon that does this all the time. So they have a hand surgeon that likes to post photos from surgery and I’m sorry, but those are some scary photos. And to me, if I’m an average person and I think I might have carpal tunnel and I go to this hand surgeon’s Facebook page or Instagram page and all I see are pictures of cut open hands, I may decide to go somewhere else because I’m afraid of surgery. And so I think that you don’t want to start your patient experience and start it in a negative light by using the wrong types of photos. You got to know your audience.

Corey: Yeah, exactly. And I think it depends 100 percent on who the audience is. So for example, if it’s a Instagram page for a surgeon, his personal brand, he wants to post surgery photos, absolutely fine. But I think if he comes to you as a practice and says “Can we share these?” Or “Can you put these up?” You really have to think about who the audience is there because like what Jen was saying is the average person, they may not want to see those things. They know that it happens, but it doesn’t mean they want it covering their feed. Just be mindful of who the intended target is, because that will chance the content.

Jennifer: Yeah, and I think that what you’re really trying to avoid here is turning off those potential patients. You don’t want people to start off on the wrong foot. And now I saw something for a weight loss doctor the other day and he had overweight people with cuts on their back. He was showing the size of the incision. But I don’t want to see that on … If I’m looking to make an appointment, I don’t want to see the scary part. I want to see the results of everything. And so I think you just have to be mindful not to impact the patient experience in a negative way by using the wrong type of messaging on social media. What’s your next piece of advice?

Corey: Well, I just want to add something real quick. You could also turn off your current patients too because let’s say … We’ll use the hand surgeon example. So let’s say I’ve been to this hand specialist and he fixed me up, so I liked him on Instagram and I’m scrolling through and I’m looking at pictures of cat videos and basketball Vines and all of a sudden there’s a big, gross hand that I’m not prepared for.

Jennifer: A dislocated thumb or something like that. I don’t want to see it.

Corey: Exactly. And then that’s an unfollow. And then if you don’t follow anymore, you’re not top of mind and maybe three years, five years from now when I do need carpal tunnel surgery, I don’t remember the name of the hand surgeon anymore.

Jennifer: Yeah, and I think that goes kind of into the next tip as well, is that if you’re putting those types of photos out there, be mindful, one, that you may turn folks off, but be mindful too that you may change the flow of the conversation that you want to be having. Because, use the hand surgeon again, like you’re looking at pictures of cat videos, maybe the local basketball team, a picture of him and his wife and his brand new baby, and then you have a picture of a hand that’s been opened up and people start talking about that and commenting on painful the surgery was, how their doctor might be better than another, and starting a conversation down a rabbit hole that truly can impact patient experience. And so I think you’ve got to be mindful of how those patient stories unfold when you’re not being intentional about the messaging that you’re putting out there.

Corey: Yeah, absolutely. So yeah, actually, that was my next tip that I was going to talk about, patient stories. So we touched on it a little bit earlier as part of the authentic communication tip, but sharing patient stories is a great way to encourage engagement, show results, position you as the authority, and just create a lot of those feel good kind of vibes and those feel good conversations, like what Jen was just talking about. I mean, I would say almost every single time we post some sort of positive patient story, we’ll get a comment where someone says “Oh, Dr. So and So, he performed that on me as well and I feel great. He’s the best.” And so those are the kind of engagement and shares and comments that you want to get.

Jennifer: Hey there. Replacing and employee can be expensive, upward of 50 percent of that employee’s annual salary. Did you know that only 33 percent of your employees are actually engaged at work? Well, what if you could invest in engaging and training your employees for as little as $8 per month, with training that’s specific to the challenges you face in your medical practice, like customer service, patient experience, communicating across generations, just to name a few? Well, visit us at insightmg.com to find out more about how our employee engagement and training platform can help you strengthen employee retention, develop patient service mindsets and give you peace of mind when it comes time for annual reviews, all without creating any additional work for you, and it’s only eight bucks a month. So check us out at insight, M, as in marketing, G, as in group, dot com. We’ll be waiting for you.

Jennifer: We harp on it all the time, but leading with patient stories is just the best form of marketing out there. The next kind of tip that I would offer is give your potential patients and your current patients a kind of a peek behind the curtain. And what I mean by that is twofold. One is patients love their doctors, for the most part. I’m going to say 99 percent of the time, they’re fanatical about their physicians, especially when they’ve had a good experience. And so if you can create that somewhat personal connection without being too personal, you can create fans for life. And when those fans are standing on their soapbox, genuinely sharing the love about their doctors, that can impact the patient experience for a potential patient tenfold. And I think the second piece to giving a peek behind the curtain is that I think the stat that we saw from a survey that came out recently was that 75 percent of the interactions are actually with your staff and not with your physician. I was with a bunch of doctors the other day and they were making jokes that it’s probably like 95 percent is actually with the staff and not with the physician.

Jennifer: Well, let’s use your staff in giving that peek behind the curtain because when you lead with those … For example, we’ve got a practice that’s going to be ready to roll out the customer service patient experience training that we’re offering and we’re going to, as part of that training, we’re going to use it in social media to shout it from the rooftops that we’re reinvesting back in our employees. Well, that helps shape that patient experience and that positive or negative kind of culture that you’re putting out there. And so if you want to shape the patient experience, it’s not just about a direct connection with the potential patient, but it’s about all of these kind of wraparound connections that help you elevate that whole patient experience piece. So I think a peek behind the curtain allows you that authenticity and transparency that people just love these days.

Corey: Yeah, and I would add to that just don’t underestimate the value of that peek behind the curtain and the staff interaction component. I mean, I would say weekly I’m usually out and about filming a handful of patient testimonials and usually without prompting, if I just ask about the experience, the patient will, maybe eight, nine times out of 10, they’ll say “Oh, and by the way, the patient care coordinator for Dr. So and So was incredible.” Or “I never had a problem with the front desk. I always was able to get through.” Or you know, when they have a positive experience with the staff, they are sure to let us know.

Jennifer: I think that’s great advice and I will end it with this on the peek behind the curtain. These peeks behind the curtain are fantastic for Instagram. We often will talk about it in our office, in our meetings that Facebook is great for the business brand and giving them a peek for the business side of it, but Instagram is all about the people that are part of your practice. And when you can share these peeks behind the curtain and really elevating the exposure for your staff and your providers in a very transparent and authentic way, does exceptional on Instagram and we’ve got the numbers to back that up.

Corey: Yep, absolutely. Alright, so last tip on social media for now is be mindful of your own personal social media posts. So what we mean by that is that you are sort of a defacto representation of the practice, especially if you don’t have all of your security and your setting correct on your social media, if you just kind of leave them like what they come by for default, you can be searched and your staff can be searched. And so just be mindful of what you’re posting as a representative of not only the physicians, but the practice itself.

Jennifer: Wait, so you shouldn’t get into an argument of why you hate Trump or love Trump?

Corey: I would advise against that, yeah.

Jennifer: I would absolutely advise against any political or religious conversations on social media, especially nowadays.

Corey: Yes. Totally agree.

Jennifer: So let’s leave social media behind, because we could talk about social and online reviews until we’re blue in the face. And let’s talk a little bit about some kind of back office areas that we can improve patient experience and the kind of … Let’s start with the telephone, because I think we should talk about telephone, billing and records because a lot of time these areas get overlooked from a marketing perspective, but I think that some of these back office areas are just as important if not more important because again, when you want to improve and elevate your overall patient experience, you really have to get to kind of the starting point and the root of any kind of problems or challenges that you’re having. So I’m going to throw out with this one, this is basic customer service 101, but really I think it’s critical to train your folks to answer the telephone with a smile. I know that that sounds silly, but we don’t know what our potential patients are going through out there when they’re trying to call.

Jennifer: And just like I was alluding to that review that came in last night where the patient said they were on hold for eight minutes. The way you answer that phone and the way you address a potential patient on the telephone is going to speak volumes to that experience because that review that came in said “If I’m waiting eight minutes just to get through to somebody, what’s it going to be like when I finally get to the practice?” And I can’t agree more. So I’d say basic customer service 101, say it with a smile.

Corey: Yeah, absolutely. And then my tip would be building on that is practice some form of empathy when you answer the phone too. Patients, they don’t want to be calling you. They need help. So I think whoever answers the phone needs to have the ability to sort of understand and share the feelings of whoever’s on the other line. It’s not like … To me, there’s nothing more annoying than the … Sometimes you know when someone will pick up the phone and you can sort of hear the conversation that they were just having? So someone will pick up the phone, they’ll be like “I can’t believe that she would say that. Dr. Smith’s office.” It’s like “Wait, what?” Like immediately I’m sort of off-put by the way that they answered the phone. Not only did they not say it with a smile, but obviously they don’t have any empathy. I’m just something that they have to deal with as part of their day. And so that puts me in an aggressive mood immediately. And it’s a simple thing. It’s customer service 101, just like what you were saying.

Jennifer: Didn’t you just have to use it as an example, you were filming a practice the other day and had to correct the front desk girl just in the way she was doing it on the video?

Corey: Yeah, we were just doing a little piece of B roll and she went to answer the phone and she just answered it just kind of looking away and not paying attention and I said “No, no, no, no. You got to do that again. You have to say it with a smile.” And she actually stopped and was like “Are you serious? Just for this little video?” And I was like “Yeah, because if that’s how you really answer the phone, that’s not what we want to portray to these patients that have no idea who you are or who this doctor is.” So I had her stop and start over. And I think she understood it, but it was just funny that she was like “Are you kidding me right now?”

Jennifer: No, I was standing there so it was good, but I think it makes such a difference, and if you say it with a smile and you practice empathy then yeah, you’re not going to make everybody happy, but at the same time, you’re going to at least put your best foot forward when you’re talking to your patients or potential patients. And I think that … I don’t want to keep shameless plugging. I feel like we always shameless plug this new training platform that we’re doing, but the fact is-

Corey: It’s a humblebrag.

Jennifer: So we … Well, I know. The fact is the clients that we work with have been asking us to help them solve the problem and not so much just keep marketing to the problem. And so yes, we’re starting with this whole patient experience training and the five-week training that we’re doing, but the next training down the road is one that plays to this next tip and that is you got to know who you’re talking to. And what I mean by that is your communication style is different for a Baby Boomer or a Silver Sneaker type, an older 80 year old woman, versus a Generation X individual. And you have to know who you’re talking to because the way that you’re talking to them on the phone or in person is going to change based on what generation that they are in, your communication style is going to change. And if you can train your folks who are on the telephone, or at the front desk, that there are different personality traits and characteristics of a 30 year old versus an 80 year old and to understand the background, then it helps you as it relates to practicing that empathy and helping resolve whatever the issue it is that a patient is going through.

Corey: Yeah, if you talk to me like I’m 80 the whole time, I’m just going to be thinking “Oh my goodness, can we hurry this up? You don’t have to explain it like this. Let’s go.”

Jennifer: Absolutely. And if you have somebody that is older and maybe that … Even like Baby Boomers and beyond, there’s a little bit more explanation that needs to take place because they’re not processing information as quickly and just their communication styles are different. So I think that’s really critical to pay attention to, the generation of the person that you’re talking to on the other end. So let’s go into billing. Corey, do you have any tips, like how we can improve patient experience from a billing perspective?

Corey: I do. One of the things that we see a lot on the online reviews is that the billing is confusing. So first step would be create some sort of easy to understand billing practices and also focus on the way that you communicate the billing procedures and practices. So don’t be afraid to post something like that on your website or hand it out with new patient paperwork, just so everyone has a copy and they know what to expect when it comes time to bill and what they may or may not owe. And rather than surprising them with a $75 co-pay when they thought it was going to be totally covered, you can really save yourself a lot of grief if you just outline clearly that this is what happens and X leads to Y, which may result in Z.

Jennifer: And I’m going to add to that. In the area where you’re handing our information and you may not be available to explain it to a patient, I think it’s so important to have somebody take a look at your paperwork who is not part of your practice.

Corey: Yes.

Jennifer: There’s just a level of simplicity that you need to have as it relates to something, especially where it’s dealing with money or a follow-up procedure. And we’re in it every day, so we may think it’s simple, but then you get somebody on the outside, especially if you’re looking at it across different generations and how they might perceive that information. So I think it’s really important that you get somebody else to take a look at it. I also think it’s important that you have a direct phone number to offer help, because some people are going to want to pick up the telephone and they’re going to want to talk to a person and not be stuck in a phone tree. And I also think in billing, we often are trying to fit a lot of things on a piece of paper and sometimes we forget that some of our folks are going to have a hard time with the size of the font on a printout. So those are the types of things that having someone on the outside take a look that they could offer you some immediate feedback.

Jennifer: And I’ll wrap up the billing segment here, Corey. I think that for some people, they’re going to want a phone number. But some people are going to want some just online, easy payment options. And so you have to look at making sure that you are addressing the different ways that somebody may want to pay because all of that is impacting their experience. If they have a good experience and a fine experience at your practice, and I did an episode the other day with Danielle, and Danielle said “The new F word is fine, as it relates to customer service.” And if they have a fine experience at your practice, but then they go to pay the bill and it’s just not working out and they’re trying to do it online and it doesn’t work right and then the phone number gets them stuck, all of a sudden that fine experience goes to terrible. And so you want to make sure that you’re positively impacting that patient experience every opportunity that you’ve got. And easy payment options are just a simple way to do it.

Corey: Yeah, I remember a couple years ago I went to the dentist and then they not only did not explain the bill to me, but then I got something in the mail from them, which was fine, I didn’t have a problem paying it, whatever, but there was no way to pay it online. So I had to call to make sure. I was like “Do I have to mail you a check? Really? That’s the only thing I can do? Can I give you a credit card over the phone or something?” “No, you have to mail a check.” I was like “What? This is ridiculous.”

Jennifer: Yeah, my favorite is when you have to call somebody because you can’t deal with it online and, like so many of our listeners, I’m ridiculously busy, so then I have to set a reminder for myself to call them. And then if I miss that reminder and then I’m late for the payment, that’s my favorite experience with my providers. Those are my favorite types of things. But I’ll digress, I’ll digress. Let’s go into records, Corey. Let’s go ahead and get this thing wrapped up. What are some ways that you can impact patient experience in your records department?

Corey: Okay, so very similar to billing, you need to have an easy to understand process for obtaining records. So essentially, if I need to get my records from your practice, I’m expecting you, as a patient, to provide some sort of printed handout with instructions. Make it as easy as possible on me so that way, what Jen was just saying, I don’t have to set a reminder and jump through hoops and go get a CD and pick up this other file over here somewhere. Just make it as easy as possible so that way I can get in, get what I need and get out.

Jennifer: Yep, that’s really just an easy, good piece of advice. And I’m going to end it with this last piece of advice for impacting patient experience overall and in your records department and it goes back to the same thing we said in billing. Have a direct phone number so that if somebody has a question, they can call and actually speak with somebody who on the other end is saying it with a smile and practicing empathy. It’s important to have a direct phone number, even if that direct person isn’t necessarily going to be the be all and end all and they’re going to have to be transferred, give people an easy way to talk to your practice. And you know, incorporating that into … That’s somewhat of a bigger kind of cultural thing, is that you want your patients to have access, you want things to be quick and you want to always put your best foot forward. And if you live kind of those three elements, then everything else will follow. But you have to get to the root of the issue, and the root of the issue is often your process, your policies, and the people that you’ve put in place.

Corey: Everybody wants to be heard.

Jennifer: Everybody. Alright, so I think that wraps it up and then so with that, I’m Jennifer.

Corey: I’m Corey.

Jennifer: And we want to say thank you for joining us here on the Dr. Marketing Tips Podcast. We’ll see you next time. Thank you.

Corey: Thanks guys.

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