Make the patient’s journey positive
It’s not uncommon for new graduates to stress about whether they provided the best eye exam ever, but what I rarely observe them focusing on is the patient’s journey throughout their practice.
Here, I discuss why this is as important as delivering a great comprehensive eye health exam and the specific patient touchpoints that make impressions — good or bad.
Health care practices and small businesses, in general, will not survive on patients and consumers, respectively, who enter their doors once. Additionally, one bad journey through a new business has the potential to kill it. The bottom line is that new practitioners can’t afford to overlook the importance of the patient journey.
- Practice website. A clean, modern, mobile-capable, Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant website with online scheduling capabilities says to a patient that an office is likely tech savvy.
- Social media. A Facebook and/or Instagram page that doesn’t exist or isn’t updated regularly can send the message to a patient that the practice is outdated.
- Receptionist(s). Answering pleasantly, with an actual smile, and making appointment scheduling easy can capture appointments.
- Outside appearance. Difficult-to-see signage or vinyl letters peeling off windows may signal to patients the practice doesn’t pay attention to detail.
- Inside appearance/smell. A neat interior with a fresh or pleasant smell, plenty of seating and available WiFi can say to patients that the practice genuinely cares about patient comfort.
- Staff. A staff that doesn’t greet patients, audibly sighs at patient questions or doesn’t explain the purpose of pre-testing devices can send the message to patients that the practice isn’t friendly or caring.
- Wait time. Patients wait an average of roughly 18 minutes to see any doctor, reports Allscripts, a patient engagement platform manufacturer. To ensure patients feel valued, this must not be the average for optometry!
- Pre-testing. A pre-testing area stocked with the latest technology can signal to patients that the practice stays up to date on the latest offerings in patient care.
- Exam. Doctors who fail to introduce themselves, stare at devices the entire visit and/or fail to welcome and answer questions may say to patients they’re just going through the motions.
- Optical. A well-stocked, organized and aesthetically pleasing optical with a friendly and knowledgeable optician can send a message to patients that they’re in good hands to find that perfect, fashion-forward frame and high-quality lens material.
- Checkout. Staff ignoring waiting patients and/or failing to thank the patient for their patronage can say to patients, “We don’t care what your experience was or whether you come back.”
- Materials pickup. This should be an exciting time! Whether the patient is getting glasses for the first time, modeling new fashion sunglasses, getting an annual update or picking up contact lenses, they should have a fun experience. Taking time to properly adjust frames, take social media pictures and explain contact lens rebates are easy ways to go above and beyond to exceed patient expectations.
Taking a moment to consider the patient experience outside the exam is critical to ensuring patient satisfaction and, thus, practice longevity. OM