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Like it or not, people make decisions based on their feelings. In urgent care, as in all businesses, these feelings are shaped by more external factors than ever before. Not only do patients consider their own experiences and the opinions of family and friends, but they also turn to the internet to read online reviews, schedule appointments, and share their own experiences.
Unfortunately, healthcare has been late to the game with its lagging adoption of tools to improve the customer experience. But there’s good news: Digital patient engagement tools are increasingly sophisticated and can help urgent care clinics better manage the patient experience, make staff and clinic improvements based on data, and encourage people to feel good about providers, staff, and urgent care visits.
Introducing effective patient engagement solutions in your urgent care not only helps you manage the patient experience, but it can also have a significant effect on patient outcomes.
Technological advances, the availability of data, and in-clinic practices are essential tools to help providers manage patient feelings so clinics can achieve sustainability and growth in a competitive environment.
But there are more reasons to improve engagement improving the success of your clinic. According to Tim Dybvig, Experity’s SVP of Patient Engagement, better engagement with patients lets doctors be better doctors through more effective means of communication. “Making your patients happy makes them better patients. They are more likely to take the medicine and listen to their doctors when the overall clinic experience is better,” said Dybvig.
Research also suggests that good patient experiences are associated with important clinical processes and outcomes. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ),
The bottom line? It’s not just about attracting repeat business—it’s about driving better health.
Along with tech, today’s healthcare consumers have also become more sophisticated. They are no longer content to be a simple receiver of information and care; they are active participants in their healthcare decisions. This includes improved access to health information, shared decision-making, and greater connectivity with care teams.
Acknowledging and acting on this fact is the first step to better patient engagement for urgent care providers. But how? According to Dybvig, it’s less about the tool you choose and more about being able to holistically understand your patients’ journeys and engaging with them along the way.
Use these tips to ensure the success of your patient engagement solution.
Your patients expect the same sort of interactions they have with online retailers, restaurants, and other service providers. Engagement tools should make it simple for patients to find you, take their place in line, and register without friction. Some patients will call. Others will book online. Give them options and make it simple. Remember: Unless you have a strong online presence that makes you easy to find for new and referred patients, you won’t get the opportunity to deliver an exceptional patient experience.
Choose an EMR/PM and other technology solutions with fewer distractions and integrated functionality so your practitioners can be fully present during patient encounters. Be sure providers are not only administering excellent care, but are transparently communicating, sharing information and options, and answering questions during the visit. Use this time to build your patients’ confidence in your expertise and the care they’re receiving.
Use simple online surveys to assess patient satisfaction soon after the visit. You could email a patient experience survey, but it’s likely that only a very small percentage will be opened and returned. A one-question text survey delivered right after the visit has a much better response rate—15 to 40 percent.
Because recommendations from others have a big impact on decision making, the best question to ask is, “Using a scale of 0 to 10, how likely is it that you would recommend my business to a friend or colleague?” The responses will allow you to identify respondents as Promoters, Passives, and Detractors and calculate your Net Promoter Score (NPS). A quick response will also help you prevent negative online reviews—and their impact.
Using data effectively requires you to hear and react to feedback you receive from patients. One bad response doesn’t necessarily indicate a big problem, but every negative review should be addressed and shared with staff. Collectively, consistent negative comments can mean that it’s time to make bigger improvements.
With the right technology partner, you’ll also have access to industry data and benchmarks that can inform your decision making from a larger perspective.
Good reviews are reasons to celebrate—and share! Encourage happy patients to share their experiences on your website, Google, Yelp, Facebook, and other third-party review sites. Positive reviews help you accomplish number one on this list (“Make it easy”) and help prospective patients choose you.
While the healthcare industry is still catching up with the rest of the world, it is making progress engaging patients and recognizing them as healthcare consumers. The Internet, enabled by tech tools, has created a new place where care delivery happens. In the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine became a bigger part of the healthcare conversation and patients can now visit with their doctor completely online.
Without the personal interaction that happens in person, providers must find a way to attract and retain their patients in a world where care can be delivered from the other side of the country. A robust patient engagement solution that’s integrated into a seamless healthcare visit is essential for success in the years ahead.
Not surprisingly, as we collect an increasing amount of data, access to and use of this data will allow clinics change and react quickly based on global information. Experity’s recent acquisition of Calibrater Health gives the company access to healthcare data collected through more than 10 million surveys that tell us what’s working and what isn’t, from wait times to provider performance. Armed with this data, we can confidently provide benchmarks to help urgent care clinics evaluate their own performance.
The next step is layering in machine learning and combining it with benchmarking to tell urgent care operators and providers how to improve their performance. In the future, clinics will use predictive analytics and reports written for people that translate healthcare data into meaningful action and real insights. With this information, clinics can fully engage with their patients to meet or exceed their expectations.
What other innovations will disrupt the delivery of healthcare? While it’s impossible to predict the future, we’re beginning to experience healthcare that keeps the focus squarely on better outcomes for patients.