Knowing what things consumers look for is important to long-term success for any business and healthcare is no exception. Patients know they have options when it comes to choosing a doctor. And, while they want doctors who are knowledgeable, the most important things patients look for are qualities that shape their experience at your office.
Thanks to online reviews and ratings, patients can more easily collect information about your practice before even stepping foot in the door. From availability and wait times to bedside manner and environment, patients searching for a new doctor can sift through tons of reviews to learn about what they can expect from you if they choose your healthcare practice for care.
So, what kinds of things do they want? Read on to learn five things patients look for in a new doctor’s office.
In a world where patients can arrange for food delivery, transportation services, or vacation reservations at the touch of a finger, convenience is one of the things patients look for above everything else. From making appointments to viewing their medical records, patients want staying healthy to be easy.
Online booking and appointment reminders via text message are things that patients look for when searching for a convenient healthcare practice. Being able to schedule an appointment online allows patients to book a visit wherever they are, even if it’s outside of your office’s business hours.
A convenient location is important, too. While there’s only so much you can do about the physical location of your office, consider offering digital tools that allow your patients to conveniently receive care off-site. Virtual visits via telemedicine tools can minimize the hassle with travel. In addition, secure messaging for non-urgent issues can save them an office visit while allowing them to receive the care they need.
The best patient-provider relationships are formed when there is a personal connection rather than just a transactional experience. That’s why connection is one of the things patients look for when searching for a new doctor’s office. Patients are quick to pick up on ulterior motives, such as financial incentives, and no one wants to feel like they’re just another check in the box. Instead, patients look for practices who address their individual needs with empathy and respect. This starts with ensuring your front office displays compassion at check-in and it remains important throughout the entire visit with your clinical staff.
Connection is also important after the visit, and patient satisfaction surveys allow you to regularly monitor and respond to patient feedback regarding what is and isn’t working well at your practice. Real-time feedback ensures your team can address patient concerns within a timely manner, which shows them you care about their experience. They don’t expect you to be perfect—but they do expect you to fix issues when they arise.
Good communication is important to helping patients feel respected and valued. Patients want a doctor who is good at listening to their health issues and responds with follow-up questions without making them feel rushed. Illness and injury can be frightening, so patients want to know they can trust you to talk through all of their options in language that makes sense to them. As their doctor, they need you to explain everything in a way that they can understand.
Good communication goes beyond the office visit, too. From appointment reminders to post-visit follow-up, patients appreciate when you stay in touch with them throughout their day-to-day activities. A check-in text here and there lets them know you care about them as a person and not just as a patient on their schedule. A communication strategy that considers what’s important to your patients before, during, and after their office visit can help you deliver more personalized engagement tactics that motivate patients to take active roles in their care.
When it comes to things patients look for in a new healthcare practice, access is important. After all, most people wait to look for care until they’re sick and need a solution immediately. If they have to wait two weeks to get seen in your office, chances are they’ll go elsewhere. Likewise, long wait times as a result of inefficient scheduling practices can frustrate patients. Often, patients are taking time off of school or work to come in for a doctor visit during regular business hours and the last thing they want is a delayed appointment.
While less talked about than scheduling, transportation services is another element of access that some patients look for. Some health systems partner with ridesharing companies like Uber or Lyft, using two-way text to find out if eligible patients need a ride. On-demand transportation can be a great selling point for patients who are looking for a new care provider but need assistance arriving at their appointment. Proactively offering transportation options eliminates the need for new patients to worry about their ride so they can focus on making healthy choices that are within their control.
Access to medical records is also something patients look for when searching for a new doctor’s office. Do you offer a patient portal or mobile app that allows patients to easily see lab results and medical history? 24/7 access to their medical records means they can look up information on their own without having to call you anytime they need something.
Finally, when patients are searching for a new healthcare practice, they are looking for an office that works with them as partners in their care. They’re the ones who know how they’re feeling and where they’re feeling symptoms. While patients want and value their doctor’s recommendation, they want to feel like they have a say in choosing which option is best for them.
Engaged patients want to understand why they need to do certain things in order to improve their health. They want to work with you, but ultimately, they want to be empowered to take control of their own outcomes based on what’s important to them.
To learn more about how your practice can offer improved convenience and access for your patients, contact us today.