How to Engage and Keep Your Patients
Disney has mastered the art of delighting the customer. Maybe it’s an urban legend, but we heard that on day one of a Disney employee’s career, he or she is told to stand near the entrance and watch the faces of the people as they enter the park. The employee is told: “Your job is to make sure those same happy looks are there when the customers leave.”
That should be the goal of every single organization in business today. And healthcare providers are in business, even if they’re non-profit. Often, the consumer’s last contact with your organization is receiving the bill. If that represents a sad surprise, it’s doubtful your consumer is left with a happy face.
Engaging and keeping your patients has a lot to do with their first and last encounter with you. Treating patients like consumers means creating a retail-type of environment from their first point of contact to their last. Which, if done correctly, won’t be their last. Be sure they can find you and pay you. And the easier they can do both, the better off you – and your consumer – will be.
One in Five Have Visited a Retail Clinic
This past January, The Harris Poll published results of a study of 2,200 U.S. adults ages 18 and above, which found that 19% “say they have visited a retail health clinic in the last 12 months, either for themselves or a member of their family.” Whether this is for convenience or cost concerns, or both, unless this retail clinic is part of your organization, you have a problem. Word of mouth is a powerful way people find healthcare providers. If almost 20% of the population visited a retail clinic in 2016, you can bet that figure will rise in 2017.
Consumer Concerns: Convenience, Connection and Cost,
Want consumers to select your services and your facilities? Give them reasons to do so. Not only are they shopping price, they’re shopping for better experiences. And that starts with convenience. If you’re competing with a walk-in retail clinic, it’s in your best interest to offer extremely convenient ways for people to find and book with you.
How easy is it to get through your telephone system to book an appointment or to talk with a human being? Once people get through, how friendly is your staff? From answering the phone, to registration to check-out, to billing, how do your customers feel about the way they are treated? Many times, people love the doctor but loathe the staff. Are you aware of how consumers are greeted?
It doesn’t just start with check-in. What’s your web presence like? When someone is shopping for services, do they find your website welcoming? Helpful? Can they shop for services at your facility and see exactly what they will owe by using your organization?
Engaging Patients with Convenience
The Physicians Foundation recently published a report revealing that “overall, U.S. adults are quite willing to use services that make receiving healthcare services easier,” with the following percentages of U.S. adults willing to use: 
- Same-day appointments – 75%
- Extended doctor office hours – 68%
- Online scheduling – 64%
- E-mail with their physician – 71%
People are willing to use online services and they’re likely shopping for providers who offer them. Do you?
Providing True Costs Helps Consumers
Cost concerns rank high among reasons that consumers avoid seeking medical care. The Physicians Foundation report revealed: “25% of U.S. adults have skipped a medical test, treatment or follow-up or avoided a visit with a doctor for a medical problem (28%) in the past 12 months because of the cost. Also, because of cost, 18% have skipped doses of medicine and 27% have avoided filling a prescription.”
According to Public Agenda, “50 percent of Americans have tried to find out before getting care how much they would have to pay out of pocket, not including copays, and/or how much their insurers would pay; and 20 percent of Americans have tried to compare prices across multiple providers before getting care.”
If half of Americans are searching for prices, why aren’t providers helping them? Amazon.com is literally a retail giant. They help people quickly find the desired item, compare prices, fill the shopping cart and pay from a smartphone in a matter of minutes. Giving people an easy way to compare healthcare prices can make the first adopter among providers the winner in that market space. It really can.
You have a choice to win or lose. You can wait until you have to or do it now. Let your competition go first and lead the pack or take the lead and outperform the rest. Price transparency is “the” hot topic in healthcare, and sooner or later, someone is finally going to figure out how to do it right and capture the marketplace. Why not be that someone?
HealthQRS has perfected the art of shopping online for healthcare. Give us a few minutes and we can demonstrate how to provide true prices – not just estimates – for your services and procedures. We can help you delight your patients by providing an easy-to-use retail experience filled with convenience, connection and consideration for their cost concerns. Click here to schedule a demo, or feel free to contact us with any questions.
 Allyssa Birth, “One in Five Adults Turn to Retail Health Clinics for Treatment, Prevention, and More,” The Harris Poll, #1, Jan. 5, 2017, http://www.theharrispoll.com/health-and-life/Retail-Health-Clinics-Treatment-Prevention.html
 “Physicians Foundation Report: Patient Survey, May 2016,” The Physicians Foundation, http://www.physiciansfoundation.org/uploads/default/Physicians_Foundation_Patient_Survey_Report_(May_2016)_2.pdf
 “Still Searching: How People Use Healthcare Price Information in the U.S,” Public Agenda, Apr. 6, 2017, https://www.publicagenda.org/pages/still-searching