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John Marvin

4 Critical Aspects of the Patient Experience Eyecare Businesses Must Pay Attention To

A positive experience can turn patients into loyal advocates, while a negative one can drive them away.

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“The customer experience is the next competitive battleground.” – Jerry Gregoire, formerly the Chief Information Officer of Dell Computer

PATIENT EXPERIENCE REFERS to the overall impression a patient has of a brand or business after interacting with them. A patient’s experience plays a crucial role in shaping their perception of a brand or practice, which can ultimately impact patient loyalty, retention, and revenue. A positive experience can turn patients into advocates, while a negative experience can drive them away.

Recently one of the doctors in our organization found himself working his office’s front desk for an entire week, eight hours a day for a week! The reasons he was forced into working his own front desk are varied but what he learned is priceless. He reports that he was embarrassed and ashamed of the inefficiencies he had allowed to be implemented over several years. He also became acutely aware of the negative impact these inefficiencies were having on his patients’ experience with his practice. In his view, one week of working his front desk was the best practice management course he has ever taken. He strongly recommends that each practice owner use one of their days-off each month or hire a fill-in doctor if necessary and work their front desk.

There are four critical aspects of patient experience that businesses must pay attention to for positive outcomes:

1. Accessibility: Accessibility refers to the ease with which patients can interact with a business. This includes factors like the availability of exam times and the ability to access information about their prescription and exam results. Patients expect you to be available when they need you. Practices that offer expanded schedules, late hours, early hours and especially on weekends offer a customer focused experience.

2. Responsiveness: We have a system of tracking phone calls generated from internet platforms with daily, weekly and monthly reporting by office. We’ve noticed that more than 100 offices collectively miss more than 9,000 phone calls made during business hours each month. In some cases, the caller makes as many as three phone calls within a day that are not answered. These missed phone calls equate to thousands of dollars in revenue, not to mention lost referrals.

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3. Consistency: Consistency is what separates the professionals from the amateurs. Consistency refers to the ability of a practice to deliver a consistent patient experience across all touch points. Offering a positive patient experience every now and then will not grow your practice.

4. Innovation: I am not referring to the latest OCT or retinal equipment. I’m talking about changing the way your patients interact with, or “experience” your practice. For example, providing a portal where patients can download prescriptions. Or offering patients the convenience of scheduling appointments or ordering online. A post-COVID world has raised the bar on the expectations consumers have of businesses.

Ask yourself, how are you treated when you need to return something to Amazon compared to the experience patients have with your practice when they want to return eyewear? If you haven’t made this comparison, rest assured your patients have.

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