A True Story of Patient Experience Gone Wrong and 3 Ways to Make it Right
In one short year, everyone in the healthcare industry has experienced radical, upheaval. (Much of it painful. Some of it surprisingly positive.) It’s important to clarify that, when I say that, I’m not just talking about all that happened for providers. As clinics and hospitals scrambled to figure out new, safe ways of delivering care, their patients were forced to abandon old preferences, accept delays, disruptions, and other inconveniences, and adapt to new solutions as they emerged.
While some of those adaptations may, indeed, be temporary blips, others are very likely permanent shifts in patient expectations, preferences, and standards for how they evaluate – and choose – their health care providers going forward.
According to multiple consumer studies, one reality has emerged from the chaos ushered in by COVID-19. Americans struggled – at a deeply human, emotional level – with the uncertainties of last year. They approached every “consumer interaction” with greater vulnerability than before, needing to feel heard and treated with care and compassion. When they didn’t, the consequences were often swift and irreversible: they shopped around for something better.
So, if that’s how people approached and assessed their experiences buying shoes or home office furniture or groceries… imagine how vulnerable they felt when trying to get help from their dentist or their doctor or any other health care provider.
There are many helpful and important studies and opinions emerging these days about Patient Experience and the new, higher stakes of every step in the Patient Journey. In a recent article, CX strategist Stacy Sherman spells it all out in the plainest possible language with the true story of how one clumsily scheduled dental appointment spiraled quickly into a patient defection. It’s a reality that has been playing out in clinics throughout the country.
Sherman goes on to spell out three critical steps every practice or clinic can (and must) take to turn the tide, starting with one of the most overlooked but high stakes factors: the early interactions between patient and provider – most notably, the experience in setting up the appointment. When handled well, the appointment scheduling creates a powerful, positive first impression for the patient. But a messed up appointment time does a lot more damage beyond the negative first impression. It forces the patient – and someone at the clinic – to recognize, react to, and fix the problem.
You can read her entire article here. If you would like to learn more about how Skybridge Americas delivers seamless patient appointment scheduling and superior patient experiences, please reach out. We would love to talk!
The Patient Experience – How To Do It Right
By Stacy Sherman
Imagine you booked a Dentist appointment, and when you get to her office, you learn that there was a mistake in scheduling. You leave frustrated and later return at the new date and time. Upon arrival, the front office staff does not greet you, and the waiting room is overly cold. Eventually, the administrator asks your name and says that the Dentist will see you in a few minutes, which turns into a half-hour later.
Finally, the hygienist calls you into her room, cleans your teeth followed by the Dentist examination. All goes as expected, and you agree with the Dentist to return in two weeks for a procedure. Upon leaving, you approach the front desk to arrange another visit. You’re informed that there are no appointments available for over two months. It becomes painstakingly clear that the dentist and office staff never communicated with one another and you’re left running in circles.
This is a real story. It describes my friend’s patient experience that was so aggravating, she ended up choosing someone else to care for her dental needs and family members too. It is unfortunate because she genuinely likes the Dentist and her costs are reasonable too. Yet as in any industry, people buy products and services based on how they feel. It goes way beyond price factors.
What can Dentists and other service providers do to attract and keep patients from going to a competitor? How can they ensure a satisfying experience so that patients share raving reviews versus bad press on social media?
There are three best practices to differentiate your company and keep patients happy:
1. Design an ideal patient experience through journey mapping.
Write down how patients may learn about your practice, schedule appointments, get service, pay invoices, receive help whenever needed, and related tasks. Describe every interaction that patients may have before arrival, when onsite, and post-visit. Include details, such as the waiting room atmosphere, and how patients get notified of upcoming appointments. When creating a journey map, involve everyone in your office so they “walk in the patient’s shoes” and continue to be mindful of delivering excellence every day…
Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing
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