In addition to being a generally accepted best practice and the right thing to do, positive patient communications can improve your HCAHPS scores along with your ratings on social media. This, in turn, can bring more patients with more revenue to your bottom line. Patient communication is clearly an important part of better healthcare outcomes, but can it also improve your practice reputation?
Better Communication Means Better Reputation
It’s challenging to connect with patients these days. COVID-19 changed many of our standard best practices for how we see patients and interact with them. This has created new challenges, not to mention the fact that patients are well aware that they have choices for services—including their medical care.
The key to retaining your patients is communication. How we communicate with our patients can improve our practice reputation, particularly at a time when social media is so prevalent. How can we improve communication with our patients? Here are some ways to improve communication and our practice reputation:
- Start with the basics they taught you in medical school Greet every patient by name and make direct eye contact. If you are conducting a telemedicine visit, the process is still the same. It’s a welcoming ritual that will comfort a nervous patient and start the patient experience off on the right foot.
- Assure the patient that you’re there for them by asking what they’d like to accomplish today. This gives them the opportunity to feel as if you’re listening and are there for them.
- While we are usually RVU or metric-driven around the patient encounter, it’s important to devote the time to the patient that they need. Typically, our midlevel and ancillaries can bookend the patient encounter so that the doctor or NP can spend less time. But make sure the primary clinical provider doesn’t spend all their time looking at their EHR, instead communicate directly with the patient and make your tablet a secondary consideration.
- Your entire team should be trained in how to offer empathy to your patients. Don’t discount the reputational damage that a harried or frustrated receptionist could do to your practice. This is an area that may be neglected—until online reviews start to go south. The goal of your team practice approach should be, “I hear you. I understand you. I’m here to help.”
- Communication also should be effective at the electronic level. Most of your patients are now mobile, so offering them text reminders of their appointments are convenient ways to quickly communicate with your patients.
- Ask your patients for feedback, either electronically after the appointment or make patient feedback surveys available. This tells the patient that you care about their opinion of your practice. If the patient has a concern, they may use a written form of communication instead of posting it publicly online.
- Follow-up communication to your patient to check-in has been the standard for more serious cases. But you can text or send a secure email to the patient after even a routine visit and invite them to take a brief patient survey. This additional communication also actively builds your reputation instead of waiting for the patient to use their own initiative to post a review. It also drives home the fact that you appreciate their business and care about their health.
The inability of your doctor and clinical and administrative teams to effectively and compassionately communicate with patients is one of the top ways we damage our practice reputation. With online review boards now so prevalent, any bad news about your practice, even if you feel it is unwarranted, could severely damage your reputation.
Organizations like UHC Solutions work hard to further the reputation of your facility. That’s why we partner with our community healthcare clients to bring them the best talent in the industry. Talk with our team today about how we can help you meet your hiring goals.