Learn how to improve the patient experience during the path to treatment in order to generate more new appointments and retain existing business.
Competition among healthcare providers is at an all-time high, which means that patients have no shortage of options when searching for treatment. Today, 56% of Americans use the internet to compare prices before booking an appointment or procedure. In other words, there’s a good chance they’re contacting multiple medical practices before ultimately making a decision. With so many providers to choose from, it’s not surprising that patients who experience undue friction during this process typically don’t stick around for long.
Phone optimization is becoming increasingly critical for providers looking to generate new appointments in such a competitive environment. Here are a few areas you should focus on in order to ensure patients have a positive experience when they call, thereby increasing your chances of maintaining a steady flow of new business.
Optimize Your IVR
When implemented correctly, an interactive voice response system (IVR) can minimize wait times and hassle by quickly directing patients to the right department. But clunky or inefficient IVR systems can be detrimental — up to 80% of consumers indicate that they would no longer patronize a business or service following a poor IVR experience.
To ensure that the IVR experience is as seamless as possible, keep your messages short and minimize the number of steps between callers and the departments they’re looking for. Optimize your system for new patients by giving them the option to schedule an appointment early in the phone tree. With the right IVR setup, you can attract new patients and keep your current patients coming back.
Properly Train Your Reception Staff
Even in the digital age, the vast majority of conversions are still occurring at the reception desk — so give your staff the tools they need to succeed. Don’t skimp on finding high-quality talent to fill reception positions, as these people are the first point of contact for new patients. Ideal receptionists are intelligent, personable, and sales-savvy.
Your reception experience should be as patient-focused as possible, with an emphasis on scheduling appointments. Instate a policy of answering the phone promptly — after two rings or fewer — and make sure you have coverage for lunches and breaks. You can also improve the caller experience by anticipating your most commonly-asked questions and ensuring that receptionists have the answers to those questions on hand. Staff should drive the conversation toward making appointments, and resist the temptation to answer detailed medical questions over the phone. Those should be answered by a doctor, ideally at an in-person consultation.
A Digital Presence With Impact
Of course, IVR optimization and training your reception staff are both vitally important; however, there’s another way to mitigate negative caller experiences: avoid the calls altogether. The majority of patient calls are in search of basic information — hours of operation, directions, conditions treated, etc. By taking a few simple steps to optimize your online presence and increase the visibility of commonly sought-after information, you’ll be able to cut the overall call volume by a significant margin. This will free up the lines for the callers with more in-depth questions or concerns.
In today’s increasingly patient-centric healthcare environment, practices need to optimize their efforts across a wider array of channels than ever before. As competition — and the number of options at patients’ disposal — continues to surge, providing a positive, seamless experience throughout the entire path to treatment is no longer optional.
If you’re interested in learning more about how you can convert more calls into consultations, download our free guide below.