25 Ways to Improve the Patient Experience (Part IV)This week, we introduce the final installment of our four-part series which now totals more than one hundred different action items to improve the patient experience at your medical practice.

In this episode, we focus on enhancing the specific interaction that takes place between the patient and the physician. We also flesh out several ways to improve your patients’ waiting room experience. From screening job candidates to empowering your employees to make small yet impactful decisions, the patient experience should be a consideration in every part of your practice.

In patient-focused healthcare, positive patient experience ceases to be purely about repeat business as it becomes an additional way for you and your staff to care for your patients.

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out Part IPart II, and Part III of this series for seventy-five more action-items.

Tune in to discover:

  • The importance of being present with your patients
  • Ways to ensure successful communication between doctor and patient
  • The importance of following up with patients
  • Tips on cultivating a modern and relaxing waiting room
  • Inexpensive ways to help your patients feel comfortable

Free Healthcare Awareness 2024 Calendar

Nearly every month of the year has a health holiday or observance, and there are also a number of awareness months that your patients and staff would love to know about. You also don’t want to miss chances to celebrate with your practice’s followers.

2024 Healthcare Awareness Holiday Calendar for Medical Practices

Free Healthcare Awareness 2023 Calendar

Nearly every month of the year has a health holiday or observance, and there are also a number of awareness months that your patients and staff would love to know about. You also don’t want to miss chances to celebrate with your practice’s followers.

Transcript Notes

Speaker 1: Dr. Marketing Tips, paging Dr. Marketing Tips. Dr. Marketing Tips, you’re 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.

Corey: Hey everyone. And welcome to another episode of the Dr. Marketing Tips Podcast. My name’s Corey.

Jennifer: And I’m Jennifer.

Corey: And we’re going to continue on a series that we’ve been doing for the past couple of episodes, where we’re sharing ways to improve the patient experience. If you haven’t checked those out, we highly suggest that you do. Right now we’re going to dive right in. We’re going to jump into ways that you can improve the patient experience when you meet with the physician. So Jen, do you want to give us your first tip?

Jennifer: Yeah, totally. I think there’s a stat out there now that says 75% of interactions are actually with your staff and not the physician themselves. But when it comes to the patient experience, a lot of times what they’re going to walk away with is that interaction with the doctor. And so I think the first thing is just to, and this is probably just a general life lesson anyway, but you’ve got to just be in the moment. You only have maybe three to five minutes with that patient. And if your mind is somewhere else, or thinking about what you’ve got to do for lunch, or what just happened before you walked into the patient room, then the patient isn’t going to feel truly like you’re spending the time that is necessary with them, so I think it’s critical.

Jennifer: I think most of the doctors out there that we work with know this, and they receive great training as it relates to being in the moment when it comes to delivering care. But just a reminder for all of us that you’ve got to be in the moment when you’re dealing with patients.

Corey: Yeah. And I would add to that and say that one of the elements of being in the moment is just making that eye contact. It seems silly, but we’ve actually gotten a lot of negative online reviews from a practice in particular, where one physician will come in, and he’s not very good at making eye contact with the patient. And they notice that. They pick up on that because, like you said, you’re only in there for, let’s say the physician’s in there for five or six minutes, and if they’re not making eye contact, well then you don’t really feel like you’re having a real connection and a real conversation. This could be an issue if the physician is, maybe that’s just their personality type. They just look at the ground. Maybe they’re taking notes, or they’re focused on the chart and what have you, and they’re not making that eye contact. So just sort of a customer service 101, make sure that you’re trying to make that eye contact whenever possible from a staff or physician standpoint.

Jennifer: Absolutely. Actually, I was at the HIMSS Conference, which is a healthcare technology conference. This year, it happened to be in Orlando, which is our hometown. And I thought, “Let me go to this thing,” so I took this full day patient experience training that the Mayo Clinic offers. And it was really interesting to hear it from Mayo’s perspective because they were talking about the things that they do. They have entire teams that focus on patient experience. And so they were talking about some of the things that they do to improve patient experience. And one thing was to kind of get rid of those hurdles that the physician and the physician teams face so that when they’re in there with the patient, that technology or the requirement to take the notes, or to transcribe, that the technology is not getting in the way of that human to human interaction.

Jennifer: Danielle said when she was at Social Media Marketing World this year that the big topic was just human to human interaction. And there’s no better place than the interaction between the physician and the patient, the patient and the caregiver, to make the human interaction of it. I think being in the moment, making eye contact. My next tip is just taking the time to understand what it is that the patient is saying to you. Sometimes that means repeating it back to the patient, but taking the time just, again, to be in that moment because this is the one time that we have an opportunity to create real human to human interactions, and so I think that’s critical because at the end of the day, chances are the patient is going to remember most this interaction with the physician because that’s why they’re there in the first place.

Corey: Yeah. It’s interesting that you say that human to human interaction. I was just reading an article, they were talking about how there’s starting to be kind of a swell against bots, because like a year or two ago that was sort of the big thing, is we can automate these conversations. And we can have these customer service bots handle a lot of things. And for a lot of practices, a lot of businesses, that’s still going well. But there’s starting to be a small percentage of people that are starting to say, “I don’t want that. I don’t want to go down this clearly automated funnel you’re sending me down. And I want sort of a human to human interaction.” It’s like when you call somewhere, and you kind of get stuck in the phone tree, which we talked about in a previous episode. Sometimes you just want someone to say, “Hello. How can I help you today?”

Corey: Building on that, my next tip would be don’t let regulations and mandates get in the way of the care you’re trying to provide to patients. Same thing, we want to provide the best care possible. And if we sort of let all the red tape and the day to day things get in the way, going back to what Jen was saying earlier, you can’t really be in the moment. And then at the end of the day, your clinical outcomes and your patient satisfaction scores are going to take a hit because of that, so just make sure whenever it’s possible, not to let those regulations and mandates just sort of bog you down and get in the way of the care that you’re try to provide for the patients in your practice.

Jennifer: Yeah, absolutely. And the same thing with technology. You can’t let … Technology needs to be a tool that’s going to improve patient experience, not-

Corey: It’s supposed to enhance it.

Jennifer: Yes, exactly. That’s exactly the case. And so whatever this new, shiny object is that you’re trying to implement at your practice, just make sure that at the end of the day, it’s not going to take away from the patient experience. Kind of my next tip too is, again, these aren’t rocket science, but they’re things that sometimes we just forget about. But when you’re dealing with patients, don’t use acronyms and don’t use abbreviated language. Your physicians and your physician teams, they’re highly educated. They know what they’re talking about. But they live in this little healthcare bubble, that a lot of times we’ll use acronyms and expect other people to know, or use scientific language. And you really do have to simplify things. You have to dumb it down. You have to use everyday language. And I think it’s just critical to be mindful of this when we’re interacting with patients and with caregivers.

Corey: Yeah. As a practitioner, or just someone that’s in a medical practice every day, those things sort of come secondhand to you, but to the patient, they’ve never heard that acronym before. And you get caught up in that. We do that too sometimes. I remember I was having a conversation with somebody, and something I thought was simple, I just happened to throw out the term SEO. And they had to stop and say, “Can you remind me what that is again?” And I was like, “Oh, yeah. Of course, yeah. No problem. It’s Search Engine Optimization.” It happens in every industry. Like you said, it’s sort of like customer service 101.

Corey: One thing that I wanted to mention, my last tip for this little section, is to repeat information back to the patient, or ask if they understand what was communicated because again, sometimes whether we’re trying to stay on schedule, we want to get into the room and out of the room as quickly as possible, we may not make sure that all of that information is actually going in one ear and sticking, because when you’re in the exam room as a patient, a lot of times there’s a lot to take in. You’re kind of nervous. You’re kind of anxious. Just taking a quick second to stop and say, “Hey. Do you understand everything that was just said? Do you need me to repeat anything? Any questions?” That can go a long way toward improving the patient experience.

Jennifer: Absolutely. I think this is where you have an opportunity to use some of that technology because I was at … I hate that I keep talking about these conferences that I’m at, but it’s conference season, it feels like. I was at the MGMA a couple weeks ago, and there was a big case study on automations and using text based technology for with a company that a lot of the practices that we work with are starting to use. And they were talking about, you’re in the patient room. There’s a lot of information being thrown out there. But automating the process of following up directly with the patient after the fact, how they want to be followed up with, via email, or via maybe a text message, all HIPAA compliant.

Jennifer: But you have an opportunity at that point to kind of repeat what it is that got said in the patient room, where maybe it was in the moment and the patient was nervous. But when they get home, they have an email waiting for them from the physician team saying, “As a recap to our appointment, here’s what we discussed. One, two, three. Here’s what you need to do. A, B, C. And go ahead and click here to schedule your next appointment.” And so there’s opportunities for those meetings with the physician and the physician teams, where technology may be a hamper on that one on one interaction, but technology may be able to enhance the patient experience if implemented correctly. And it may actually enhance that human to human interaction between the physician and the patient themselves. I think especially as we look at technology that can improve the practice, let’s look at the ways that we can automate that system and make it easier for the patients at the end of the day.

Jennifer: If you like what you’re hearing and need some help marketing your medical practice this year, be sure and check us out 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. You’ve got to remember too, when the patient gets home, there’s a chance that if they didn’t remember something at the office, they’re going to get home, and they’re going to say, “Well, I don’t want to call and either wait on hold, or seem stupid. I don’t want them to think I can’t remember.” And then they feel anxious about that. And it’s just sort of this cycle that you could avoid if you either leverage the technology or just make sure that they understand all the information before they leave.

Jennifer: Absolutely. Absolutely. Cool. Let’s keep going. I think we have some tips on how you can enhance the experience in the waiting room. Did you put together tips on that one, Corey?

Corey: Yeah. First one, and this is a pet peeve of mine, is keep it clean. I mean, I know that it can be tough sometimes if there’s a ton of people in there. But there’s been many times where I’ve walked into an office and there’s two or three people in the lobby or the waiting area, and it’s a complete train wreck. There’s trash everywhere. There’s Starbucks cups kind of knocked over on the table, and magazines on the chairs and things like that. I would say if you put yourself in the shoes of a patient, and let’s say that they walk into your practice. That’s going to be their first impression. And obviously, that’s not how you want to start this experience. That’s not the right foot, so keep it clean.

Jennifer: That’s so simple. We were just talking about this in one of trainings the other day, in one of the live trainings that I attended. And the patient experience now begins and it ends online. And if you have a dirty waiting room, expect to see that on Yelp or one of these review sites.

Corey: 100%. Yep, exactly. And then people are going to say, “I wouldn’t have noticed if the waiting room was so dirty if I didn’t have to sit there for 45 minutes.”

Jennifer: Exactly. And then it starts the conversation. If your waiting room is dirty, there will be a photo of your waiting room online by the time … In the time it took to pick up that trash, there’s probably two photos that are already been posted online.

Corey: Yeah. And like you said, it’s so simple. It’s a huge pet peeve of mine.

Jennifer: Another one, I actually got an email two nights ago. I think you were copied on it, Corey, from one of our practice administrators. And he said that he was in a meeting with the board of directors for the surgery center. And the conversation about way finding signage came up. And this conversation about way finding signage came up. He basically, he’s like, “Well, we’ve got to get on this because people can’t find the practice.” And you and I talk about it all the time, where we’ll be headed into the office, and somebody will be late. I mean, it’s so small and so minor and so fundamental, but you have to have good signage and you have to have great directions so that people can find the front door of the practice.

Corey: But not only that. I would say when you’re actually in the waiting area itself, it makes sense to have the restrooms clearly marked. If there’s water, coffee, whatever, have [crosstalk 00:13:45], because I see it all the time too when we go to a practice. And a patient will just come up and say, “Hey. Where’s the restroom?” And so I don’t blame them because there’s no signs there. In fact, Jen, there’s one ENT practice that we work with where there’s not one sign in the main lobby of their office where you could find the restroom. You actually have to walk outside around the corner.

Jennifer: [inaudible 00:14:09].

Corey: Yeah.

Jennifer: That’s another building.

Corey: Yes, exactly. And that’s super confusing. So just simple things to improve that patient experience is what we’re talking about. I would also, my earlier tip for the waiting room was keep it clean. But also, keep it current, so if you do have any sort of magazines, reading material, those kinds of things, make sure that they’re current publications. You don’t want a Car and Driver issue from 1998 out talking about the latest models because it just shows that you’re not paying attention. If you are going to have those types of materials out, make sure that they are as current as possible. Again, super easy, but the patients appreciate that.

Jennifer: On top of that, yes, you need current publications. You also need publications that are probably of interest to your patients.

Corey: That’s a great point.

Jennifer: And if you have a TV up in the lobby or in your waiting room, be mindful of kind of the mood it puts your potential patients in. If you’re putting trash TV or some regular news cycle, we don’t need everybody in our waiting room to be frustrated by the political discussion taking place on Fox News before they go into see their physician. Or we don’t need … It’s fine if you want to watch the Jerry Spring Show at home in your own private setting. But your patients, chances are, don’t want to be put into that mindset before they’re walking into your practice. In fact, it can be stressful. And there’s been many times where I will put in my earbuds just to drown out the sound of a talk show or a political news show because this is my time too. And I don’t want my time invaded by what I call noise pollution, and that is nothing but noise pollution. So be mindful of the experience that your patients are having in your waiting room.

Corey: Yeah. That’s a really good point. And you know that also, it changes the conversation that patients are going to have with each other in the waiting area as well, which can be positive or negative. For example, if you were watching Jerry Springer or something like that, one patient may turn to another and talk about what’s on TV. If you don’t want that conversation to happen, you can avoid it by not having that on the television.

Jennifer: I was actually with one of our clients the other day, an IVF doctor, fertility doctor. You know the one I’m talking about. And I was in his waiting room. His waiting room is comfortable. He’s got a TV on, but his TV is the montage of his patient testimonials mixed in some education about his practice. And we know this because we put it together. But if you follow the Dr. Marketing Tips Podcast, you know that we like to lead with marketing strategies that put the patients forward, so we have a lot of patient stories. And you can use your patient stories in the videos that hopefully you’re doing at your practice to create a montage that you can then control what your conversation, like you’re saying Corey, you can have more influence over what that conversation is going to be. And you can’t do that if you just have on the cable TV.

Corey: Yeah. And that’s a great way to cross promote other service, some ancillary services you may have at your practice, leverage some of the marketing and the social media that you’re doing. And pro tip, this is a little bonus here. Just make sure that if you’re going to put one of those loops together, it is long enough that it will not repeat while patients are in the waiting area. If your average wait time is 45 minutes, double it, and then put that loop together.

Jennifer: Amen. Amen. Amen. It’s a great way to market the practice, and it’s something that not a lot of practices take advantage of. Probably less than half of the ones that we work with are taking advantage of video loops.

Corey: Yeah. No, I couldn’t agree more. Next tip, offer snacks and water. Simple, easy, inexpensive, but it makes huge difference when it comes to improving the patient experience because, again, patients, they’re a little anxious. They don’t really want to be there in the first place, for the most part. If you can offer them little amenities like that, ultimately when it comes to the bottom line, what’s that really affect you? But it can really make a difference to them.

Jennifer: Absolutely. I think we shared it last week on the podcast, where I was standing in line at the Fairmont Hotel in Austin, Texas for the MGMA. And they were walking around with cold bottles of water, handing them out. Huge difference. Huge. You may not be a concierge medicine practice, but you can act like a concierge medicine practice by doing little things that are going to cost you just pennies on the dollar, but are going to make a huge impact for patients. That goes into my next tip, and that’s anticipate the needs of your patients. Just say, “Hey. Dr. Smith, he’s running a few minutes late. So help yourself to some refreshments. Or if you need the ladies’ room, let me show you. It’s right over here. Just let me know how I can help.” Anticipate the needs of your patients and make it more like a concierge service versus just a waiting room that you’re sitting in.

Corey: Yeah. And again, going back to changing the conversation, that is how you go from a review saying, “I checked in, and then no one talked to me for 20 minutes,” to, “Oh, Lisa at the front was so nice. She offered me water. She showed me where the restroom was. She actually took me right to it so I couldn’t get lost. And she just went above and beyond, and I couldn’t recommend her enough. She’s so sweet.” Blah, blah, blah. And that’s how you switch that conversation. It’s just that little, what is that? 10, 15 seconds worth of interaction, it makes all the difference in the world.

Jennifer: Absolutely. Absolutely. I would say next tip is create a comfortable space that feels more like a place that you want to be, versus a waiting room. There’s no handbook out there that says, “Okay. A doctor’s office waiting room needs to be where there’s 15 chairs, and they’re lined up perfectly. And there’s a [inaudible 00:20:09]. And there’s seven news magazines and some dusty old book on the shelf.” There’s nothing that says it can’t be more like a coffee shop, or more like a living room. There’s no handbook out there that says you have to do it one way versus the other. So create a space that you want to be in.

Corey: Yeah. You were just talking about the fertility practice that we work with. And his waiting room, it’s very homey. It feels like you’re as part of the family. It’s kind of set up like, I don’t want to say like a living room or a family room, but he’s got big, comfy couches and nice furniture and tables. He does offer the water and the coffee and everything. It’s a nice space to be in compared to stuffy practice with a glass partition between the staff and the patients. You know what I’m talking about, where it’s got the old carpet. Yeah, you don’t want that. Nobody wants that.

Jennifer: Absolutely. Absolutely. If we’re talking about waiting rooms, let’s also talk about some things that you can do in the common areas. I know this one might seem obvious, but make sure your bathrooms are clean. Have things in place. I was in the Atlanta Airport recently. And I remember because I pay attention to the Orlando Airport, which is one of the largest. And then I’m in the Atlanta Airport, and in the bathroom they have little air fresheners at … If you’re in the bathroom and you’re sitting on the potty, they have little air fresheners that are eyeball, right at your eyeball, like right at your nose. And they’re putting out a little bit of fresh air, but what a difference.

Jennifer: And I remember this because I came out of the bathroom and I’m like, “Hey,” to the person I was traveling with, “Have you seen those air fresheners?” And I thought, “Why aren’t we doing that in Orlando?” And honestly, why don’t you have air freshener in your bathroom at your practice, or an automatic air freshener, where it’s just going to release once in a while? Just pay attention to those little things you can do in the common areas, especially the bathroom.

Corey: Yeah. I was at the hospital the other day for a meeting. And actually, in some of their restrooms they have a little, it’s almost like a feedback bank. And you can press a button, and depending on … And it says, “How clean was the restroom? Let us know.”

Jennifer: [inaudible 00:22:37].

Corey: Yeah. And so basically it’s like happy face, neutral face, sad face. If it’s messy, you press the sad face. And if it gets enough sad faces within a set amount of time, they just send somebody in there to clean it, which I thought was really cool. It’s like an unobtrusive way. You just press the button on your way out and go wash your hands, and let them know that something’s amiss. I’ve never seen that before, so I thought that was really interesting.

Jennifer: Hey there. Replacing an employee can be expensive, upward of 50% of that employee’s annual salary. Did you know that only 33% of your employees are actually engaged at work. 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: Here’s the thing too. Most of our listeners are independent physician practices. And I think there’s things that the hospitals do that they do a great job at.

Corey: Agree.

Jennifer: They have hand sanitizer all throughout the hospital, so if you walk by anything at the hospital, and you want some hand sanitizer, it’s super simple to get it. Why aren’t our practices doing this?

Corey: Yep, small thing makes a big difference.

Jennifer: Small thing, but people pay attention to it. What other things in the common areas would you suggest, Corey?

Corey: I would say, and some of this is going to be out of your control, but if you can keep the outside of the practice clean as well, that also goes a long way for improving the patient experience. Don’t have a smoking area outside of your front door, nasty gum on the sidewalk, trash on the sidewalk. There’s one practice that we work with, where one of the entrances to get in, it’s down a little breezeway, like a little driveway, and there’s a restaurant that’s right there. And their dumpster is there, and sometimes there’s just such stench from the dumpster. And I get it, you can’t do anything about that. That’s not your fault. It’s the restaurant or whatever. But if there’s anything you can do to be mindful of what you can control outside of practice, that can make a big difference in improving the patient experience.

Jennifer: Absolutely. There’s two that I can think of right off. One, we have a practice that, because a lot of practices are going into retail spaces now. We have a practice that is close to a restaurant. We probably have a couple of them. And because I usually go in through the back way, which sometimes patients also do, I noticed that there are rat traps. The practice, because they’re there for the restaurant. Maybe there’s no animals in there, but I know what a rat trap is, and it makes my stomach turn every time I see it.

Jennifer: And then I was noticing, I was at a practice the other day. And you know those boxes that you put medical waste in, or tests, or things like that, then the companies come and pick them up. I’m walking into the front door of the practice, and there’s six of these boxes, and four of them are hanging on a wall. And then two of them are laying on the ground because I guess there’s a different vendor for each one. But I noticed that as I’m … I understand they serve a purpose, but I really am drawn to how messy it is. And that’s the first experience I get walking in the door.

Corey: Yeah. And again, sometimes things like that are going to be out of your control. But maybe there’s an opportunity where you can have some sort of divider, or partition, or something like that, where you keep those things, that’s not super obvious to patients. Maybe it’s behind a plant or something like that, just so it looks a little bit cleaner. Again, so on that first impression you don’t say, “Oh, there’s a bunch of boxes with needles on the ground.”

Jennifer: And that’s the thing. Are those needles my needles? Is that my test that’s in that box they’ve got laying on the ground? What the heck is the purpose of it because it’s obvious medical waste or medical testing? I don’t know what it is. But that’s my experience. I have another one. This sounds really fundamental. And Corey, you probably haven’t seen it yet. But there is an email in your inbox I’m sure.

Corey: I can’t wait.

Jennifer: It is so long, and it came in yesterday. And the moral of the story of the email is that it sounds so fundamental, but you better be following up with your patients when they need you. There’s an email we got. It’s a patient from an ENT practice. And basically, they love the doctor. But there’s somebody in the office who, I guess, turned in some paperwork incorrectly to insurance, or didn’t include photos, and so the case got denied. And the patient’s been trying to get to the bottom of it. But their email details out, I called the office, I left message. Nobody called me back. I called the office again, left a message. I was told that I would be called back in 10 minutes. I was never called back. So it’s like a week and a half.

Corey: Oh, no.

Jennifer: There’s phone tree issue. There’s all these things. And at the end of the day, it’s just about following up. If you say you’re going to do something, do it. That’s what patients expect. Yesterday I was in the live training for patient experience week. And somebody said, “Even if you don’t have any information yet, you still tell the patient, ‘Hey. I don’t have this resolved yet. But I’m just letting you know that I am following up to let you know that I don’t have it fixed yet.'” It’s okay not to have the answer. But you have to follow up with your patients.

Corey: No, that’s a great point. I mean, if the office says, “We’ll call you back on Tuesday,” and it rolls around and it’s Wednesday afternoon, as a patient … Or I mean, think of any industry if they say that they’re going to do something, and then they don’t do it. It doesn’t even matter, like you said, if they have the answer. It’s just a matter of following through with what you said that you were going to do.

Jennifer: Yeah. And I think a lot of it has to do with putting yourself in the patient’s shoes. This is something we talk about a lot in the on demand training. But this is what we do every single day, kind of like using acronyms. It’s what we do every single day, and so it doesn’t seem like it’s that big a deal for us. But the patient, especially when it comes to their health, the patient, they’re frustrated. They’re scared. They are just trying to check this off their list. It’s probably eating them up totally, getting a test result, or getting that followup. And so something that doesn’t seem important to us is extremely important to the patient, so you have to realize that and be empathetic, and make sure that we’re following up on a timely basis.

Corey: Yeah, definitely. We know maybe we didn’t hear back from the insurance company, so there’s no real update. But the patient doesn’t know that. So why not let them know? I can’t wait to read that email.

Jennifer: Oh, you’re going to see it.

Corey: Oh, boy.

Jennifer: I know you can’t wait. Okay. Let’s keep going. We’re almost there.

Corey: All right. Let’s talk about staff interaction. Let’s think about public verse employee only areas when it comes to the patient experience. That can be anything from conversations that the staff is having, to where those, even the directions of how to get there. For example, if your staff has to walk through a public area where there’s going to be patients on their way to the break room, let’s say two of them clock out at the same time to go on break. They’re going to start having whatever conversation that they’re going to have as they walk through that main area, potentially. And so it’s just something to be aware of because a perceptive patient will realize that they were just behind the front desk, and as they’re walking away, they’re talking about gossip, or somebody in the office, or whatever. And that can create sort of a negative interaction almost immediately, even though the staff necessarily, the team didn’t do anything wrong. They’re on break. They’re talking about whatever they want to talk about on their way to a private area. Just something to be mindful of there.

Jennifer: I think that’s a really great point. And then I’m going to end it at this because we’re about 30 minutes in. I really think it’s important to empower staff to make decisions related to patient experience. I’m not saying that you empower the staff to make life or death decisions, or decisions that are going to cost the practice a lot of money. But give them the tools in their toolbox to make decisions that are going to make patients happy in the short-term. And this could be giving them the power to offer them a $5 coffee voucher for the local Starbucks, or giving them the power to provide the patient with a cold bottle of water, or 50 cents for the soda machine, the juice machine, because we don’t drink soda anymore, and throw it into the juice machine. Let staff be empowered to solve a problem so that they don’t have to go to a manager or escalate it every single time because I think the patients really do appreciate that.

Corey: Yeah. That makes total sense. If you empower the staff to sort of be able to look at a situation and kind of read and react to it, and know that they have the ability to do that. Actually, I heard somebody, I think it was yesterday. They were walking down the hallway. It was a team member at a medical practice. And he said, “Nope. Not part of my job.” And I was like, “Come on.”

Jennifer: I know. Right?

Corey: And maybe he said that because he’s not empowered. Maybe the training wasn’t there. And it was a small thing. I don’t remember exactly what it was, but I remember thinking, “Yeah. It’s not part of your job. But it would be so easy, dude. Come on.”

Jennifer: I know.

Corey: Yeah. But yeah, if you empower the staff to kind of make those decisions and sort of think slightly differently about the situations, and like I said, if they know that they can read a situation and react to it, and maybe offer a bottle of water, a $5 gift card, or even going up to the patient and asking if there’s anything that they can do. If it’s not part of their job, they still have that ability. That is huge.

Jennifer: I couldn’t agree more. And I think that it kind of goes back to if patient experience is going to be a focus for your practice, if truly improving the patient experience is going to be a focus for your practice, [inaudible] that the percentages are saying that more of that experience is happening with members of your staff and not necessarily the physicians, then when you’re hiring your staff, or training your staff, or working on your engagement programs, you have to tell staff upfront that patient experience matters.

Jennifer: And I think that you have to make it part of your overall culture at your practice so that eventually, especially through churn, that you have the right people on your team, because when it comes to marketing your practice these days, marketing is a team sport. And it could be the person in the billing department, the front desk, the doctor. Your website’s a part of your team. It’s a tool on your team. Your phone tree, everything is all related now. And so you have to hire for patient experience and make that part of your culture and part of your overall efforts as it is to cultivating the right team and getting the right people on the bus.

Corey: Yeah. I couldn’t agree more. As the team sort of takes a … It makes such a pivotal role in the marketing and the patient experience becomes more and more important, it’s more important now than ever to hire the right people, make sure that they’re kind of in the right seats, they’re doing the right things, and that they’re intelligent. They care. Those things matter more than they ever have before in the healthcare industry.

Jennifer: Totally. I think this is a good place to end off. And this really wraps up our series on things that you can do at your practice to improve patient experience. And I think we were aiming for 100 different tips that we could implement back at the practice. And we’re probably right there, if not over. And with that, I want to say thanks for joining us on this series. I’m Jennifer.

Corey: I’m Corey.

Jennifer: And we’ll see you next time on the Dr. Marketing Tips Podcast.

Corey: Thanks guys.

Jennifer: Thank you.

Speaker 2: Thanks for listening to the drmarketingtips.com podcast. If there’s anything from today’s show you want to learn more about, check out drmarketingtips.com for our podcast resource center with all the notes, links and goodies we mention during the show. If you’re not already a subscriber to our show, please consider pressing the subscribe button on your podcast player, so you never miss one of our future episodes. And if you haven’t given us a rating or review yet on iTunes, please find a spare minute and help us reach and educate even more of our medical practice peers. Thanks again for listening. And we’ll catch you next time, doctor’s orders.

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