6 ways to build a fantastic patient experience

Dhiraj Nallapaneni

7 min read Last Updated Oct 26, 2022

Studies are showing that patients are firing their doctors— but not because of the doctors. Instead, practices were losing patients because the younger cohort is increasingly demanding what they’ve learned to expect from other industries- an easy, seamless patient experience with quick communication and great service. 

Let’s talk about why patient experience matters and how you can start improving.

Patient experience definition 

Patient experience refers to the range of interactions that a patient has with your practice across different touchpoints, encompassing first contact, scheduling an appointment, and interactions with the staff. 

Consider patient expectations 

Remember, patients are getting used to seamless experiences with businesses— whether that’s easily ordering a new book on Amazon or calling an Uber from their cell phone. Those same expectations carry over to healthcare practices. While it’s not fair that the customer experiences of billion-dollar companies are being used as the benchmark, it’s the unfortunate reality. 

Right now, practices are not living up to the high expectations that patients are placing on them. According to Prophet, 81% of patients are not satisfied with their healthcare experience. There’s a lot of room for improvement across the board. 

Patient experience and health outcomes 

Believe it or not, patient experience surveys can even help your patients’ overall health. Studies have shown that collecting feedback on patient experience leads to better health outcomes. 

But that wasn’t the only benefit of improving patient experience. The study also found the following: 

  • Great patient experience means less risk of a malpractice suit 
  • Great patient experience means lower rates of employee turnover
  • Great patient experience means greater patient loyalty 

So the evidence is clear: Taking steps to improve patient experience helps your practice, your patients, and your employees. So how can you get started improving your patient experience? 

There are easy steps you can take to start meeting these expectations. Let’s go through them. 

Develop a strong online presence 

Remember, the patient experience starts from the moment of first discovery. Make sure that your website is updated. Make sure to show testimonials from past patients and high-definition photos so that prospective patients understand what kind of care they can expect from your practice off the bat. 

Next, make sure that your information is updated on relevant listings sites like Google and Facebook. Having the wrong hours of operation or phone number can lead to patients being frustrated and turning somewhere else. 

Let your patients message you with webchat 

It’s important to make it easy for your prospective patients to reach out to you with questions about insurance and scheduling. Nobody wants to call and get put on hold, but it’s far too common for a healthcare practice to use this outdated method of communicating with patients. 

Studies show that consumers prefer Webchat to methods of communication like phone and email. In case you don’t know what Webchat is, it’s the little icon you see on the bottom right of this blog that you can use in case you have a question. After all, patients can send in their questions via chat with a lot less effort than a phone call or an email. 

Send appointment reminder notifications 

Remember, your patients are busy. It’s important that you’re communicating with them to remind them when they’re scheduled to see you. Nobody wants to get a missed appointment charge on their insurance when they weren’t even aware that they had an appointment in the first place. 

That’s why you should send appointment reminders where your patients are most likely to see it- via text message. Use a HIPAA-compliant text messaging service that allows you to easily communicate with your patients. However, stay away from services that require patients to download an app. Very few patients are willing to do this, so you are only limiting your potential reach. 

Using automated patient experience surveys

 The best way to improve your patient experience is to ask your patients what’s working and what’s not. We recommend that you invest in software that allows you to send these surveys automatically. Instead of having your staff spend time trying to collect this feedback manually, you can make sure that these patients are texted these surveys immediately after their visit. 

There are a couple of different options that you have for patient surveys. The first is Net Promoter Score surveys. These surveys allow you to ask your patients how likely they’d be to recommend your practice to family and friends on a scale of 0-10. What’s great about these surveys is that a patient can answer them in just a quick second. All they have to do is click a number.

These surveys can give you a great gauge of overall patient sentiment. However, you should consider using more in-depth surveys to get more specific feedback. These surveys can give you a better idea of the exact areas where you can improve. 

Here are some questions you can consider asking in an in-depth survey:

  • How would you rate the ease of making your appointment?
  • How would you rate the provider’s ability to explain things in a way that was clear?
  • How would you rate the amount of time the provider spent with you?

Once you’ve collected the results of your surveys, be sure to analyze them. Invest in software like Birdeye that allows you to view the breakdown of different survey responses and measure patient sentiment over time. This will give you concrete evidence about the effectiveness of your current patient experience.

Monitor and respond to online reviews 

The story isn’t over when the patient gets a review. Keep a close eye on your customer feedback on review sites. A negative review, if left to its own devices, can cause damage to your practice’s reputation. Most of the time, a patient who leaves a 1-star review isn’t trying to hurt you, they just need help with an issue they are facing. A quick response asking to take the issue offline can help to resolve the problem. Most of the time, the patient can then be convinced to either edit or delete the bad review. 

There is one thing to keep in mind before you start responding to online reviews: HIPAA-compliance. Do not identify a reviewer as a patient. Keep your statements generic. A response to a bad review can be something like, “Thanks for your feedback. We strive to keep all of our patients happy. Call us at (phone number).”

Get insights from healthcare reviews

Make sure that you’re keeping an eye on these reviews because it can provide you with valuable information about how you can change your operations for the better. There’s a reason why better online healthcare reviews are correlated with better health outcomes.

Unfortunately, trying to analyze reviews manually can be an unscientific process. Luckily, there’s a way that you can use data to make better decisions. Birdeye offers Natural Language Processing (NLP) that analyzes your review text, finding the areas your patients are mentioning the most. This allows you to pinpoint the areas you need to improve with zero guesswork involved. 

How Birdeye can help you provide a great patient experience 

Want to start improving your patient experience? Birdeye can help. Birdeye offers practices everything they need to be found, be chosen, and be the best. Whether it’s fixing listings, Webchat, Messaging, automated review requests, or review insights, Birdeye has got you covered.

Download free guide on how to get more google reviews.

Originally published Mar 02, 2020 5:26 AM, updated Oct 26, 2022