Most healthcare providers are aware that their practice is vulnerable to competitors. Patients today are more educated about their provider choices and will look at online reviews of your practice on Google and doctor rating websites.
You should expect that most patients will carefully scrutinize your practice online before scheduling an appointment and are likely to leave a review of your practice after they leave. Going the extra mile to take care of your patients is more critical than ever for ensuring your success.
However, running a practice and juggling customer service is challenging—it’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind and lose sight of the need to go above and beyond to deliver an exceptional patient experience. Your goal should always be to create the kind of loyalty that ensures patients keep returning to your practice.
Time is precious—so what can you do to promote a patient-friendly environment when your team is strapped for time and exhausted?
We’ve compiled six easy ways to go the extra mile for your patients without tacking on a load of extra tasks for your team. Your patients will love you for it, and so will your doctors. We’ll end with some concrete examples of how these steps can help your practice.
1. Use Social Media to Your Advantage
Social media matters to your patient. There are ways you can use their fascination with online media to your advantage. We know 51% of patients look up their providers on social platforms—a practice that is more and more common. As a provider, you can use social media to demonstrate your attention to customer service and commitment to patients.
Studies show that patients judge your practice based on the level of friendliness they perceive on social media. You can also use social media to demonstrate your credibility and popularity with patients. How do you go about doing this?
First, if someone checks in on Facebook, respond to say you’re glad to see them. Ask if there’s anything you can help with. Even if the answer is “no” (which will be the case about 90% of the time), you will have made a lasting impression and demonstrated a high-level engagement. Maintaining engagement here is crucial because it lets patients know that you care about their needs.
You can also use social media to share content and tips that matter to your patients. For example, many patients ask, “Is the flu shot worth it?” By taking the time to answer pressing questions like these, you draw their attention and educate them about medical issues they genuinely want to know about and that may even lead them to schedule an appointment.
The beauty of social posts is that they are extremely flexible and can be used for lots of different content. For example, you may want to post important changes to your practice, such as office hours. Or, if your doctors are running late that day, let the patients know. Social is great for giving patients a real-time update on things that matter to them.
2. Offer Your Patients Free Wi-Fi
Just like having a television in the waiting room, offering free internet is attractive for patients and will keep them engaged if your doctors are running behind. It gives patients an outlet that can relieve frustration during long wait times. You can even set up your Wi-Fi with a splash page to market services to patients when they log on to the internet.
A splash page, also known as a login page or a captive portal, is the website your patients first encounter when they log onto your Wi-Fi network. You can brand these pages with your logo and colors and use the page to:
- Highlight specific services you’re trying to promote (like back-to-school eye exams or flu shots)
- Invite patients to like your Facebook page or follow your other social sites
- Offer patient surveys
- Ask for patient reviews
- Offer preventative healthcare tips
It doesn’t take long to set up a simple splash page. Your business internet provider can help, or if you have an IT person on the team, even better.
3. Offer Snacks
Healthy snack bars, coffee, or even bottled water in the waiting area is a nice touch that patients will appreciate. The idea is to make your patients more comfortable and the waiting room more inviting—plus, who doesn’t love free food?
Why do small amenities like this matter? A 2020 survey showed that 60% of patients become frustrated after waiting for 20-minutes in your lobby. We know wait times are sometimes out of your control, but by providing snacks, you can easily improve the patient’s overall experience. Parents with children will especially appreciate the gesture and it can even prevent hunger-related episodes of frustration.
Just adding a mini-fridge with water is a nice additional touch to go the extra mile for your patients.
4. Thank Your Patients
Who doesn’t like a greeting card during the holidays? What about a personalized card after your patient goes through surgery? Birthday cards can also go a long way to ensure patients feel seen and heard.
While cards may not be feasible for larger practices, you can still send a birthday text or email, which can even be automated. These small touches have a significant impact on patients.
Think about it—they spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on your practice each year. A nice card or handwritten note is well worth the time you’ll spend on it.
5. Hold an Event
An online or in-office event is a great way to build relationships with patients. Thanks to the popularity of video conferencing—and the low cost of online tools—you can host a monthly or quarterly “talk to a doc” session.
We know of one California doctor in particular who hosts a “Walk with a Doc” event regularly, where he and his staff show up at a local park for a walk and patients join them for a chat. Hosting an open house for a new office is a fun event to engage with patients and a great way to introduce new people to your practice.
If you wanted to go digital, you could always host a Facebook Live event for a half hour and answer common questions that your patients ask. Take the time to demo a new service or talk about stress management.
I don’t know about you, but I’d be interested in an “Ask the Doctor” session on how to prepare for cold and flu season, or a short video about five things I can do right now to improve my diet on a budget. The idea is to provide useful information in a genuinely fun event that benefits patients and your practice.
6. Give Back to The Community
Many businesses and companies host holiday food drives, so why not your medical practice? There are all kinds of things you can do to support your community and engage your patients in the process.
Homeless shelters need warm coats, socks, or other items when the weather changes. The local dog shelter always needs donations. You can even advertise the donation drive in a patient newsletter or on your website.
If you text appointment reminders to patients, you can add a note about the charitable event. Everyone wants to feel like they’re a part of something bigger than themselves, including your staff and patients.