Believe it or not, most of what patients want most from their healthcare practitioner doesn’t have a big price tag or super-deluxe clinical credentials. In the future, a sleek new practitioner’s office and warm environment would likely be appreciated. But patient surveys and focus groups aren’t looking for fresh architectural design.
The future healthcare practitioner’s clinic is about superior patient experience, and things that are possible to deliver today. Patients put the greatest value on intangible and emotional touch points, plus a few convenient touches via everyday technology. For the most part, the things patients value most in healthcare delivery are free or low cost. That isn’t to say that breaking with tradition, long-standing routines and provider-centric systems will be easy.
Patients expect the convenience of technology…
There’s a dichotomy between the traditional paper-centric doctor’s office and the digital-centric life of many patients.
Nearly everyone has a smartphone in their pocket and/or a mobile device within easy reach. While people value face-to-face encounters, Millennials particularly value digital communications including portals, email and text. What’s more, the Millennial generation has never been without computers and the Internet and are open to new and convenient aids in healthcare delivery.
The office of the future will provide convenience by way of greater access to care. To the patient with a retail mindset, this means same-day or next-day appointment, a wider range of office hours, early morning, evening and/or weekend options.
Here are some of the benefits that patients want the most. How many of these things on this checklist do you currently provide? How many attributes of the healthcare practitioner’s clinic of the future can you embrace immediately and deliver today? Many of these elements overlap:
Eliminate the waiting. Waiting to see the practitioner or to make the appointment is a universal complaint. Some patients would settle for LESS wait time, but the ideal clinic of the future has none. A patient’s time is valuable and “going to the doctor” is a disruption. But it’s the aggravation that erodes patient satisfaction.
More time with the practitioner. Patients who wait long or are suddenly rushed feel that the doctor and the clinic are either indifferent or incompetent or both. Conversely, a feeling of not being rushed, having adequate face time with the practitioner communicates empathy and concern. It is also the foundation of good communications and the practitioner-patient relationship.
Demonstrate understanding and compassion. As a rule, practitioners are caring and concerned about their patients. But they are also problem-solvers. Patients appreciate the healthcare solutions, but they want good clinical care wrapped in empathy and compassion. Patients want to find evidence of respect and caring in relatively simple things like:
- Healthcare decisions are a patient-doctor partnership
- Listening attentively to patient concerns and issues
- Making eye contact, smiling, addressing the patient by name
- Making two-way communications and understanding a priority
The ordinary retail world has shaped consumer expectations in healthcare as never before. But building the practitioner’s clinic of the future is possible today. In fact, these are fundamental and nearly universal expectations for any healthcare practice. In healthcare practices, patient experience and patient satisfaction are the foundation of success.