Improving patient administration is one of the hidden gains that more and more medical practices are beginning to uncover.
Doctors will always focus quite rightly on the care that they give their patients. People go to their GP when they’re sick or injured. Their priority is getting better or at least reducing their pain or discomfort.
But in order to do the most good in their communities, doctors need to provide a positive patient experience from the very first interaction with patients and potential patients.
Patient administration software provides an opportunity to build the processes and operations of a medical practice around the patient. If your medical practice is a finely-tuned machine, you can see and help more patients and they will feel better about their whole experience.
But, conversely, problems with your patient administration process risk undermining all the good work you’re doing treating and helping your patients.
Here are 3 signs that could mean your patient administration needs improvement.
1. Your patient numbers are down
Successful medical practises do not just wait for patients to come and find them. They actively market themselves to ensure they are visible and accessible and make the best possible first impression on potential patients.
The pool of patients is huge. More than 82 per cent of Australians have seen their GP in the past 12 months, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
Technology is increasing the reach of the more innovative medical practises and patients have demonstrated that they will travel for a good healthcare experience, so you should always be able to generate more demand.
However, if your practise is seeing patient numbers start to fall it could be down to your patient administration.
By providing patients with access to an online booking system, for example, medical practises can make it much easier for patients to book appointments. They are not limited by practice opening hours and can instead get their appointment booked when it’s convenient for them.
According to the ABS, almost 23 per cent of the people who needed to see a GP in the past 12 months had either delayed it or put it off entirely. Providing a hassle-free booking solution is a good way to reach these patients.
2. Your patients miss appointments
Missed appointments or patients showing up late for their appointments present major challenges for medical practices.
If the waiting room is filled with sick people who came at the wrong time it reflects badly on the doctor and his or her administrative team because the practice looks like it’s running behind.
When appointments are missed, the doctor’s time might be wasted and patients who really needed an appointment might have had to wait unnecessarily.
Patient administration software is a potential solution to this problem. Providing patients with convenient reminders about their appointments, for example, can reduce the number that are missed or cancelled at very short notice.
If medical practices make it easy for patients to change their appointment, they can get more notice when there’s a cancellation and increase their chances of finding another patient to fill the slot.
This level of slick, efficient communication is a big hit with patients. An in-depth study published earlier this year into what people want from their healthcare experience identified good communication among the top priorities for patients.
Above: Patients thrive on communication.
3. You don’t know what your patients think
Getting proper, regular feedback from your patients is essential for improving their experience.
A 2018 report from KPMG, the accounting firm, said the best medical practices showed a strong commitment to patient-centred care. This meant everyone in the organisation taking responsibility for delivering an exceptional patient experience.
But you can’t do that if you don’t know how your patients feel about you, your staff and your medical practice.
A positive patient experience is not only good for the patient. It also helps promote your medical practice through the power of word-of-mouth advertising.
Often patients won’t be able to judge the quality of the care they receive. The doctor is the expert and as long as they get better they will assume the clinical choices made on their behalf were correct.
That means other, tangible factors, such as the booking and checking in systems or the design and layout of the waiting room will help to determine whether or not patients say good things about your practice.
Regularly canvassing your patients for anonymous feedback is an essential part of improving the patient experience. By learning what exactly it was that they liked or didn’t like, you will know what to prioritise. Sometimes the results will surprise you.
Want to know how you can improve the patient experience? We’ve put together this FREE guide full of simple and effective things you can do within your practice.
Discover how HealthEngine can help you connect and engage with your patients here.