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As a medical practitioner, owning your own private practice is not easy work. Whether you are a dermatologist, a psychiatrist or general practitioner, many physicians face the same hurdle when they realize that doctors are not businesspeople. As the business of healthcare becomes increasingly complex, it is important to ensure that other areas of your practice are equally attended to and addressed to ensure maximum efficiency and patient satisfaction.
As a medical practitioner, your education, experience and special knowledge are in your field. Running a business requires a completely different set of skills entirely. Here are a few tips to help optimize your operation, boost your brand and deliver a next-level patient experience they won’t soon forget:
Make the front desk a priority
Pay close attention to your front desk. The employees who work the front desk are often the most important. This is because they are often the first point of contact between patients and your practice. They also facilitate communication between the patients and the doctor. They interact with patients over the phone, check in patients for their appointments, send records and schedule follow-up appointments. Your receptionist is likely the first person patients interact with when they find your practice, and first impressions matter! Since your receptionist manages all patient interactions both in the office and over the phone, he or she must have excellent client service skills to ensure the greatest possible patient satisfaction.
To help you focus your attention on patient care, you need to find someone in your office who has skills in handling areas you are not familiar with. You may realize that managing the accounting side and cash flow of your business is difficult for you, so instead, find someone who is skilled in handling complicated and complex issues related to staffing, financial and legal requirements to sustain and improve your practice’s operations. Create a plan to outsource repetitive tasks to someone else, such as billing, transcribing, scheduling and marketing.
You can even use online resources to help delegate the work. One way is to provide online scheduling. Rather than patients having to call to schedule an appointment, the instant gratification of scheduling an appointment without having to speak to someone is in high demand and will greatly improve scheduling efficiency.
Related: What Work Should You Outsource?
Utilize telehealth practices
For many patients who think that doctor visits cost too much or take too long, or patients who think their medical issue is not severe enough to seek out help, telehealth may be a great option. Seeing a doctor over video call would dramatically cut down on the amount of time it takes to get care. It will cut down on waiting time, and on average, the visit with the doctor will take 8-10 minutes, compared to 20 minutes for an in-person visit.
Now, a patient can schedule a quick visit with their doctor right from home! When scheduling a traditional doctor’s appointment, patients must consider a variety of personal barriers, such as travel time, time off work, childcare and more. The option of telehealth visits reduces the stress of these barriers and increases the flexibility of the patients. This option will also allow you to expand your patient base. One frustrating aspect of having your own practice is late or no-show patients. This results in lost time for you as the practitioner. Implementing telehealth practices could decrease the instance of late or missed appointments and allow for higher efficiency in the office.
Text your patients
The average person checks their phone numerous times each day. To have time on the screen of your patient’s phone could mean so much when communicating with them. It is crucial for doctors to be able to text their patients, since we spend so much time engrossed in the content on our smartphones. Our society has become obsessed with instant gratification, so utilizing texting as a form of communication is crucial.
Similar to telehealth, utilizing texting to remind patients of upcoming appointments could greatly reduce the chances of late or no-show appointments. Patients can also cancel their appointments via text, which allows you to pivot quickly and fill their spots. Texting makes it easier to keep the schedule filled and keep patients on track. It also allows for more efficient workflows. Texting in healthcare alleviates the need for manual reminders by providing essential information directly to the patient’s phone via automation. Automated messages are also reliable, as they deliver information to patients regardless of who calls in. Then, one-to-one patient text conversations complement these automated messages, so communication feels natural and human. Be aware that in some cases, communicating personal health information via text can violate HIPAA standards.
Listen to your patients and staff
Listening to feedback from both your patients and staff is the best thing you can do if you want to improve your practice and business model. It is integral to see your practice from different perspectives, especially since the patients are the ones receiving the care. Make sure to ask your patients for feedback after every touchpoint: Ask about the efficiency of the scheduling process, how their appointment was, what they appreciated and what was insufficient.
One way you can improve these open lines of communication is by providing patients with polls or surveys to get feedback. Anonymous surveys give each person the opportunity to be honest about any problems they faced in their experience, as well as to offer praise to the members of your team who excelled.
Any of these changes you make will improve your medical practice. If you have sufficient resources now, it would be in your best interest to try out new approaches and see what works for you, your staff and your patients. Better communication with patients benefits everyone, so whether it is a new waiting room or better online resources for patients, you can count on getting good results and a more satisfied and healthier patient.