10 ways to step up your patient experience

By Elin - Co-founder & COO on 29th January, 2021

At Salve, we spend a lot of time listening to both clinics and patients to create an app that helps clinics deliver the best patient experience possible. But in today’s competitive market, we know that clinics need to look for new ways to deliver first-class patient care and increase retention rates. This month, we spoke to Elin (our Co-founder, COO and most importantly new mum, thanks to fertility treatment) to find out how she thinks all clinics can step up their game when it comes to patient experience.

1. Go all out with your open days

Pre-pandemic, organising an open day that stood out from the crowd was already a tricky task, but now clinics are being forced to hold virtual ones to help keep both patients and staff safe. With change comes opportunity – so why not make the most of this new, virtual format to really up the level of service you’re offering prospective patients? Here are some ideas for a great open day, whether virtual or in person:

  • Before the day, try sending out engaging, visual materials to get prospective patients warmed up and excited – follow up with the same.  

  • On the day itself, begin with a group seminar and then follow it up with short, one-to-one sessions where prospective patients can be made to feel at ease and ask any questions they’ve got. 

  • Reduce the open day group sizes for a more personal, less overwhelming atmosphere with shorter waiting times. 

  • Think about offering financial incentives for patients who choose to go ahead with treatment after attending an open day.

2. Offer short initial consultations, free of charge

With so much at stake, picking which fertility clinic to go with was one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever made. It’s possible that the cost of an initial consultation could play a part in whether or not your clinic is shortlisted. So, use the initial consultation to show prospective patients you understand the financial implications of treatment, and would like to offer a 15-minute initial consultation totally free of charge. You could consider doing these consultations over video call to reduce your own costs – perhaps even offered as part of your open day. 

3. Perfect the start of your patient journey

First impressions are everything, so it’s super important to consider every detail at the start of your patient experience. Here are some ideas: 

  • Think about what and where you’re advertising – how might it make your patients feel and think about your brand? 

  • What or who greets your patients as they step into your clinic for the first time? One clinic I know even employed a former flight attendant to make sure patients received the warmest of welcomes!

  • Think of ways to make your waiting room feel as comfortable, hygienic and safe as possible, putting patients at ease who are likely feeling nervous. 

  • Make sure your WiFi login details are easily visible – little things like this go a long way.

  • Put the privacy of your patients and their ease of experience first. I like that lots of clinics have stopped calling out names and instead use patient numbers. 15 minutes before an appointment, send your patient a short message reminding them of how things will work when they arrive along with their patient number.

4. Make it easy to complete and upload consultation documents 

Medical histories are sensitive documents and usually tricky to fill out. For a more stress-free experience, start off by making these available for your patients to complete at home. Doing this before their initial consultation reduces the time they spend in the clinic, so is safer for everyone. Ideally, documents would then automatically populate in your clinic’s EMR – this helps reduce data being handled twice, moves you towards being paperless and is better for your doctor who can check the form ahead of a patient arriving. A win-win all round.      

5. Send patients regular reminders and support 

Regular medication and appointment reminders will help patients feel relaxed and confident about the management of their treatment. Being proactive by sending messages of guidance will also make them feel more comfortable with the treatment process, reduce the number of questions your clinic needs to answer and help patients stay on track.  

6. Use automation for a more responsive and accurate service

It’s only natural for clinics to make mistakes from time to time when they’re so busy. But with automation, both clinics and patients needn’t have to deal with the implications of these. By automating certain processes and communications, you can reduce the errors and headaches mistakes cause, offer a more responsive service for patients (even outside of clinic hours) and leave the clinic team to focus on giving the best care possible. 

7. Deliver information to your patients at the right time

When it comes to the fertility process, patients have historically received a heavy load of information up front – often leaving them feeling stressed, confused and overwhelmed from the start. As a result, clinics spend a lot of time on the phone answering questions and offering reassurance. Consider a more manageable delivery of patient education to save them stress and your clinic precious time. This information can still be made available from the start of the journey, but then delivered in more manageable chunks at timely points throughout the treatment process. Automation can be leveraged for this, allowing actions in the clinic’s EMR to trigger the next set of guidance for the patient. 

8. Provide mobile-friendly patient information 

It’s a fact that on average, one third of fertility patients use their phones for more than 6 hours a day. So it’s a no brainer that clinics should offer up easily digestible information in a mobile-friendly format that patients will simply expect, given their significant investment in treatment.    

9. Make communicating easy  

The steps above should help clinics to reduce a lot of the non-urgent, repeatable questions patients tend to ask on a daily basis. However, with psychological factors often being the reason for patients to end the fertility process early, the last thing you want is to cut patient contact altogether. Instead, it’s a case of making communication between clinic and patient more seamless, to reduce stress and increase confidence. Mobile-friendly chat functions are an easy way to do this – so think about looking into one that’s healthcare compliant and integrates into your clinic’s EMR, giving the whole team visibility. 

10. Be as personable as possible

For all the reasons I’ve covered, it’s so important to make patient treatment as personable as possible. Staff profiles are a nice way for patients to get to know your team and learn their names. By building trust and feeling at ease, patients are far more likely to retain any information you give them – especially if it’s offered up gradually, as I covered in step 7. 

When it comes to stepping up your patient experience, it might look like there’s a lot to consider. But from my own treatment experience, by actioning even a few of these simple steps your patients will really feel and appreciate the difference. Want to talk to us about any of the points raised? We’d love to hear from you.