A patient’s experience encompasses more than just a direct interaction with their doctor. It spans their entire care journey, meaning every employee in your medical group can have an impact on it.
It’s not only about putting on a smiling face during patient interactions. Long wait times, an unclean waiting room, a feeling of being rushed with the clinician, and a seemingly inefficient front-office staff all have the potential to ruin a patient’s experience with your practice.
As the (AHRQ) notes, patient experience includes several aspects of healthcare delivery that patients value highly when they seek and receive care, such as getting timely appointments, easy access to information, and good communication with providers. It’s a crucial factor in the success of your practice and is a key part of providing high-quality healthcare.
The Consequences of a Poor Patient Experience
A negative patient experience occurs more often than you might think. Research from Accenture revealed that only about 33% of patients said they had a positive experience with their physician. Roughly 22% of the respondents who had a negative experience reported that an inefficient visit is what led to it.
With the rise of healthcare consumerism, patients are increasingly demanding a higher level of service from their providers. When that doesn’t happen, there often are consequences, one of which is delayed or missed care.
Some patients will quit making appointments with their provider after a bad experience, especially if they had to wait a long period of time to get in for an appointment or they encountered a long wait time in the waiting room prior to their scheduled appointment. They may cancel scheduled appointments — or just not show up for them at all — forgoing preventive screenings and procedures. The result is poorer health outcomes and open spots in a physician’s calendar when a patient no-shows.
A Low Retention Rate
Low patient retention is another ramification of a poor experience. One survey found that almost 40% of patients left a healthcare provider in the previous two years. Most patients won’t inform you that they’re not returning to your practice — they simply just won’t show up again.
Not retaining patients means your medical group has to acquire new ones to sustain your bottom line. Not only are new patient visits typically less profitable, but attracting new patients costs an average of five-to-eight times more than keeping an existing one. Conversely, by increasing patient retention by just five percent, a practice has the capability to increase the value of an average patient in lifetime profits by 25-100%.
A Damaged Reputation
Does your medical group boast a favorable reputation in the communities you serve? Patients with negative experiences will change that in a hurry, either through word-of-mouth or bad online reviews.
With more than 90% of individuals sharing their bad experiences through word-of-mouth, news of a poor experience can spread quickly through a community. In addition to that, nearly 45% of people share negative reviews on social media, this being even more problematic, with more than 80% of Americans reading online ratings or reviews before booking an appointment with a healthcare provider.
A Hit to Your Bottom Line
The biggest visible impact of negative patient experiences lies in your bottom line. In addition to the lost revenue from patients you failed to retain, you now have to spend time, money, and other resources to acquire new patients.
A negative patient experience is strongly associated with decreased profitability. When you lose a patient, you’re also missing out on potential revenue from their family and friends. You might not even hear from these patients — for every customer who complains directly to you, there are many more who remain silent.
The Perks of a Positive Patient Experience
Now to the good news: promoting a positive patient experience can benefit your practice in numerous ways. Evidence demonstrates that a good patient experience is associated with higher levels of adherence to recommended prevention and treatment plans, better clinical effectiveness and outcomes, increased patient safety, and lower healthcare utilization.
That reputation problem? Approximately 45% of individuals who report having a positive patient experience said they would tell someone about it. That means higher conversion rates, increased profitability, and better online reviews and ratings. A positive patient experience even translates to lower staff turnover.
The Digital Difference
The first step in rectifying a negative patient experience — especially if it’s a common occurrence – is addressing the problem instead of avoiding it. Accept responsibility for the issue(s) causing the problems, and address them internally. Each patient is different, so no one approach will work for everyone.
Also, realize that poor patient experiences probably indicate some procedures or processes in your medical group that need to change. You can’t please every patient, but not attending to some squeaky wheels may result in the entire vehicle falling apart.
A growing number of patients equate a good digital experience to a positive provider encounter. In fact, 41% of patients say they’d switch providers over a poor digital experience.
Consider utilizing digital health tools that improve access to care by automating administrative tasks and streamlining patient outreach and communication. The best solutions are those that enhance the patient experience through smoother and quicker interactions while minimizing touches with staff.
Offering online scheduling is a key part of delivering a positive patient experience. When healthcare providers give patients the option to self-schedule their appointments, they’re more likely to differentiate themselves from competitors. The result is better patient attrition and retention and higher revenue.
Patient intake technology also aids in promoting a favorable patient experience. Along with reducing wait times, digital check-in satisfies patients’ desire for convenience and efficiency, eliminates the delay associated with manual data entry, and provides you with all the information you need to timely and accurately submit claims and receive reimbursement for services rendered.
See how our patient engagement platform can help your medical group ensure a positive experience for your patients. Also, check out our blog on Putting Patient Feedback to Work for Your Practice.