Putting patients first: Practice management software and patient experience
February 20, 2022 By mindZplay Solutions Staff
Today the technology and software you choose shapes your patient’s experience with you.
Every patient who walks in the door is a potential source of referrals, but what motivates someone to recommend your clinic, and how does your software factor into that? Patient experience is something that begins long before they enter your treatment room and continues long after they leave it. It drives people not only to return to your clinic, but also to recommend your business to family and friends.
Your practice management system interacts directly with your patients: For example, your website will offer patients online booking and gift certificates to purchase, while your appointment schedule will send appointment reminders, and your patient record system will present intake forms for them to fill out. As a result, you must consider how the system you choose will impact your patients. Not only in terms of the features it offers, but also in how patients interact with the public facing aspects of the software. These decisions shape not only a patients first impression of you but also go on to affect their overall experience with your practice. When choosing your practice management system, the last thing you want to do is save yourself time at the expense of your patients. Sometimes an extra step on your part will pay for itself many times over if it adds value to your patients’ experience.
Things to consider
The required equipment. One very basic aspect when introducing technology into your practice is the required equipment – good software should work from a variety of hardware platforms. This includes smartphones, tablets, and of course traditional desktop workstations or laptops. Patients should be able to make an appointment request using whatever device is available to them. Further, while a paperless office is a noble goal, some patients may still need paper receipts. It’s a good idea to plan to have access to either a laptop or desktop computer, a larger tablet, and a printer. Even if your software supports paperless features, you should be able to offer paper copies when needed.
Patient interaction. Your patient’s experience must be considered to optimize your chances to maintain and grow your practice. When analyzing how a system will define your patient experience, it is important to watch out for barriers. For example, potential patients may have difficulty reaching you during business hours due to their (and your) work schedule. Online booking builds patient loyalty by encouraging people to go online to make their booking request right away, instead of putting off booking or worse yet, seeking out one of your competitors should they reach your voicemail.
Another common barrier for patients are booking systems that require logins. Requesting an appointment should be simple and only require patients to provide basic contact information – forcing them to manage another password in their lives, just to book with you, is not the best patient experience (not to mention what happens when they lose or forget their password). Worse yet, if new patients are required to sign up for (and verify) an online account with you to make a booking, this can often be seen as a barrier and could entice them to go somewhere else. A better experience might be provided through a system that reserves their desired appointment time immediately upon request, then holds it for them until approved or rejected by you. This removes the need for your patients, both new and returning, to sign into an account to make a booking. The confirmation step is important as this keeps you, the practitioner, in full control of your appointment calendar by providing the opportunity to review incoming requests before sending confirmation to the patient. The small amount of time you spend approving these appointments is more than made up for by the increase in revenue you would otherwise lose when potential patients become spooked by a sign-up process.
Patient privacy. Most practitioners in Canada are aware that local healthcare regulations define that patient data should be stored in Canada via software provided by a Canadian-owned company, to avoid exposing the patient data to foreign government’s privacy laws. Be sure to verify that the software you are considering stores the patient on servers in Canada and that they are a Canadian-owned company.
Support. Whether you are adopting practice management software for the first time, or moving from a different system, any software you choose will come with an adjustment period. Take advantage of pre-sale demonstrations, and/or post-sale orientations offered with a live representative to understand the tools available to you. Getting your questions answered firsthand from a knowledgeable specialist can raise you from novice to expert in a very short time regardless of your technical skills.
mindZplay Solutions Inc., a provider of massage therapy websites and practice management solutions. To learn more, visit massagemanedger.com.
This article originally appeared in the Spring 2020 edition of Massage Therapy Canada, and online in May 2020.
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