When it comes to patient-centered care, every medical practice or organization professional plays a critical role. This includes the receptionist who greets the patient during intake, the billing department that handles payment processing, and the nurses, physicians, and assistants who deliver care.
What is a patient-first approach?
A patient-centric approach to healthcare focuses on the individual’s personal goals, needs, desires, and expectations so that the patient becomes central to the process. This can mean putting your needs above those established as priorities by healthcare professionals.
Why does it matter?
We must learn to listen, and truly hear what patients have to say. To improve the patient experience, we need a culture change from one where we treat patients as though they are doing us a favor to one that places their needs at the center of everything. This is not to say that the needs of the healthcare professional are insignificant, however, it’s important to remember the value that patients place on their healthcare providers. They want to feel like their voices are heard, and that they have a say in the decisions that affect them. They want to be treated with respect, and to be made aware of all options available. Ultimately, patients want an experience that is centered around their needs and preferences.
Much like the relationship between a child and a parent, you’re the one with the answers. You’re the one who provides care and knowledge. You’re the authority. This in itself is a privilege.
- Make sure the whole team is on board with the approach.
The most important thing to remember is that the whole team should be involved in the patient’s care and experience. Everyone plays a role, and everyone should understand how their role affects the patient’s experience.
This means that every team member needs to be on board with this approach, from reception through billing to management. They all have different jobs, but they are all part of one team: the team dedicated to providing exemplary service for your patients. It’s not just about “being nice” or doing something because you think it might make someone happy—it’s about making sure that everyone understands why service is so important for patients’ overall health and well-being (and potentially even life).
- Focus on Preventive Care and Wellness
Patients hope to live long and healthy lives, but at times prioritize immediate needs ahead of preventive care. To ensure your patients continue living active, fulfilling lives well into their golden years, you should encourage them to stick with regular health exams and improve their routines to keep their bodies in top shape.
- Enhance Patient/Caregiver Engagement
- Make sure patients are engaged. This can be done by having open lines of communication and offering a variety of services. For example, if you have an in-office pharmacy, make sure patients know they can pick up prescriptions there instead of having to go to another location.
- Use technology to improve engagement. A good example of this is having a patient portal that allows patients to view their records and request appointments. You can also use technology to help patients manage their health, such as tracking fitness progress through wearable devices or using mobile apps for managing medications.
- Make patients feel comfortable and confident. Patients are more likely to engage with your practice when they feel comfortable, so make sure you have the right environment and staff. For example, if you have a medical assistant who provides patient care in the office, make sure they’re well trained and experienced in their job responsibilities. If you don’t have an assistant on staff yet, consider hiring one or working with a physician extender who can provide these services.
- Make it a group experience
Involve patients in their own care so they can be more involved and take an active part in determining the best course of treatment for them, rather than just doing what you tell them to do without much discussion or consideration of alternatives (which is often not necessarily a bad thing).
Show patients how they can help themselves with simple strategies such as exercise, diet, sleep hygiene, and relaxation techniques which may improve their overall well-being even if it doesn’t provide immediate results.
- Reinforce the Value of Patients
The patient experience is crucial to your practice and should be treated as such. Patients are the reason you are in business, so why not make them feel like they’re a person and not just a number? Patients are not just paying for your services, but also for the peace of mind of knowing that there’s someone who understands them when other doctors don’t. Patients are sometimes lucky enough to find themselves with someone who truly cares about their well-being, and providers need to recognize this unique bond.
When putting yourself in the shoes of your patients, remember that at one point or another, we were all patients ourselves—and we know how scary it can sometimes be! If they choose you as their provider, they will most likely feel more comfortable being honest with you about any concerns or issues if they know that you’ll listen without judgment.
The patient experience is the backbone of your practice. Once you have this right, then everything else will fall into place. You’ll have happy patients who feel cared for and respected, staff who are committed to providing the best service possible, and an amazing office! We hope these tips will help you create a culture where people want to come back again and again because they know they’ll get great care every time they visit.
Unlock the power of digital technology to achieve success in your medical practice with “The Healthcare Professional’s Guide to Success in the Digital Age.”
This comprehensive playbook will provide you with the knowledge and skills you need to navigate the digital transformation of the healthcare industry, from electronic medical records to telemedicine and beyond. Download your copy now and take the first step toward digital success in healthcare.