Last updated Sept. 18, 2019
A gastroenterology practice is a business in the medical industry. For growth and sustainability, the practice must be run like a true business with patients treated as ‘healthcare customers'.
In the digital age where information is easily accessible and patients have more control over who they contact for medical services, a gastroenterology practice must market itself efficiently to attract new patients and keep existing ones.
One key factor in online marketing is reputation management.
There is no better way for a gastroenterology practice to manage its reputation than improving customer service.
The experiences of patients in a particular healthcare facility have a huge impact on how the practice will fare.
Knowing that customer service is key to the success of any medical practice, how can gastroenterology administrators improve customer service and position their practices for success?
Here are some customer service tips that can be very helpful.
Before the Visit
Excellent customer service starts even before a patient steps into your practice.
It is important that you take steps to make the entire process of booking an appointment and seeing a gastroenterologist easy for your new and existing patients/customers.
There are few things you can do to make this happen and we will summarize them as briefly as possible:
1. Include Self-Service Functions on Your Website
One of the simplest ways to improve the experience of patients even before they step into your practice is to have self-service functions on your website.
Make it easy for your patients to book, reschedule, or cancel appointments online.
It should also be easy for them to request other administrative tasks like prescription refills.
This will not only improve patient experience but ease your staff workload too.
2. Make Form Filling More Easier
Filling out the paperwork can contribute to stress and frustrations during waiting time in your office.
You can improve the experience for your patients even before they step into the office. Most patients are happier to fill their paperwork at home.
When patients fill out their paperwork at their conveniences, they feel better about the process and ease your staff more stress.
You should make this optional, however, as some will prefer to be guided when doing this.
3. Set Up Reminders for Upcoming Appointments
Sending your patients reminders about upcoming appointments will reassure them that your practice is professional and proactive.
This is something that can be done easily but it can yield enormous results.
You can easily automate the process and send out the reminders through different channels including email and text. This can always reduce the rate of no-shows.
4. Take Every Call Seriously
Some patients will prefer to book appointments via phone calls. It is important that you take phone calls more seriously.
Even if prospective patients are only calling to make enquiries, the opportunity should be seized to give them a test of your excellent customer service.
Make sure it is easy for patients to connect with staff no matter how busy the practice is.
It is also important that the person taking the call pay attention to the caller's feeling and respond the right way.
It is also important that permission is sought before placing a patient on hold: this helps to reassure them that they are valued.
During the Visit
The time a patient spends in your gastroenterology practice is very crucial. This is the time to prove that your office is truly exceptional and represents the right place for the patient.
While the experience and expertise of the gastroenterologist is a critical factor, the overall experience of the patient matters most.
Few things will improve the experience of the customers at this point including the following:
1. Be Honest About the Waiting Time
Waiting is common in healthcare and most patients understand this. Frustration sets in only when they feel the wait is longer than necessary or that they are being neglected.
You need to keep patients informed about their wait, and you need to be honest about it too.
There is a need to have a staff member visiting the waiting room frequently to keep patients updated about the expected wait time.
Optimize the wait experience
Besides making sure that patients are well-informed about wait time, make efforts to improve the waiting room experience because it is one of the major patient experience killers.
The waiting room needs to be clean and comfortable. You should also provide important materials to keep the patients busy as they wait.
Televisions, up-to-date reading materials, and things like free coffee can significantly transform your waiting room.
2. Optimize Communication
Communication is another important factor when it comes to customers experience in healthcare facilities.
Gastroenterology administrators need to ensure that they communicate effectively to promote the image of the practice.
Good communication includes verbal and nonverbal cues to make patients feel valued and secured in any situation.
Effective communication starts with eye contact, a sincere smile, and greetings from the front desk person.
The patient's questions must be answered clearly and assistance must be provided until the patient is comfortable.
Put systems in place
Healthcare providers needs working systems to deliver efficiently. A gastroenterology administrator can improve customer service by making sure that all the systems are working as they should.
Scheduling algorithm and routines will provide enough time for the physician to interact with the patient and limit tardiness.
A working billing system will make it possible for the patient and the gastroenterologist to be on the same page at all times.
Your practice must automate as many processes as possible; it will make patients feel at home.
After the Visit
Customer service is an ongoing process. Even after their appointments with a gastroenterologist, patients need to stay in touch.
Even if patients do not contact the office after a visit, it is important to keep in touch and assist every patient in any area he/she needs help.
Here are a few tips to ensure to improve customer service after a visit:
1. Keep Your Promises
Most patients are mindful of every promise made by their healthcare providers.
One way to improve the reputation of your practice is to make sure that every direct promise made to patients are fulfilled.
This also means you need to be careful with promises and owe up whenever you overpromise. Honesty pays in the long run.
2. Make Follow-Up Calls
Follow up calls are as important as the time a patient spends with a gastroenterologist. It is important, therefore, that you take it seriously.
Communicate test results promptly to ease patients' anxiety and provide further instruction on how they can live healthier.
Follow-up calls are important for top-quality healthcare and will also help you maintain a good reputation.
3. Offer Online Access to Medical Records
Another thing you can do for your patients to improve their experience with your clinic is to allow access to medical records through an online portal.
That's where it becomes so important to have a professionally built website for a Gastroenterologist.
This will make life easier for them and also reduce the workload on your staff.
4. Measure Satisfaction
It is important that you receive feedback from your patients after their visit.
You can do this during the follow-up call or you send a simple email survey to get the opinion of the patients on areas they feel needs improvement.
By measuring their satisfactions, you will be able to improve your systems and deliver better customer services .
Customer service is important for all kinds of businesses including medical practices.
There are several ways administrators can help improve the customer experience in healthcare facilities and the tips above can help in various ways.
If you have any further questions, contact us and we would be pleased to help you.