Guest Column | November 13, 2018

Provide A Better Patient Experience With Engaged Staff

By Jim Higgins, Solutionreach

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Healthcare practices place a lot of focus on keeping their patients engaged. After all, engaged patients are the ones who show up to their appointments, schedule and keep follow-up visits, and are more likely to follow their prescribed treatment plan—all of which lead to better health outcomes for patients. And when it comes down to it, happier and more engaged patients lead to more appointments and more revenue for a practice. But an often overlooked aspect of engaging patients comes from having an engaged office staff to provide an excellent experience in the office. Research shows patients expect the same level of customer service from their healthcare providers that they do anywhere else, and an invested staff will help patients feel the welcome they are looking for.

Task Management

In order for staff to be engaged with a practice, they need to feel like they make worthwhile contributions to the practice. One way to do this is to ensure each person has specific duties they are responsible for every day. This doesn’t necessarily mean they have to be the same responsibilities every day, assignments and tasks can be rotated based on position or shift, but they do need to be clearly defined. A tool like a task list in patient relationship management (PRM) software can be a great place for staff to track tasks each day. Items like calling patients who haven’t confirmed their appointments through the automated reminder, or which patients need to update their contact information when they check-in can be listed here. When the task is complete, the team member can check it off the list. At the end of the day, the office manager can see which tasks were completed, and which ones need to be added to the task list for the next day. Employees feel more connected to their work when they feel like their contributions actually matter and having specific jobs every day not only benefits the practice by ensuring everything gets done, but it also gives the employee a sense of satisfaction when they look at everything they have crossed off their to do list for the day.

Intra-Office Communication

Another way to keep staff engaged is to help them build relationships with each other. Most healthcare practices spend 74 minutes a day tracking down coworkers to pass on important information. An intra-office chat tool can help eliminate this wasted time, and keep everyone informed about things happening in the office. If a patient cancels their appointment at the last minute or there is a change in the schedule everyone needs to be aware of, the office manager doesn’t have to run around making sure every employee is told—someone is bound to be missed. Instead, they can post the information in a place where everyone will see it. This helps employees stay connected with each other and it helps them provide a better patient experience. In a busy office there is always information that needs to be passed around. It can make for a pretty chaotic environment if staff members are constantly chasing each other down to talk. If they are able to connect through a chat tool that chaos can be removed from the patient’s line of sight and provide a calmer experience. Staff members can take the time to engage with patients, instead of rushing through interactions because another staff member is waiting to speak with them.

Connecting over a chat tool is beneficial during the daily hustle and bustle around an office, but it’s also a good idea to hold regular staff meetings too. This gives the office manager a chance to check in with the team, evaluate processes, and discuss any changes. It’s also a great opportunity to recognize top performers and highlight positive online reviews left by patients. Regular meetings like this help to boost the morale around the office by showing staff the practice manager actually cares about their workload and is willing to make changes to make things better. They also help staff members see how their contributions really play a part in the success of the practice and its patients.

Engaged patients are a benefit for every practice, but an invested staff is just as important. It’s easy for staff members to get caught up in the day-to-day tasks and lose sight of the bigger picture of helping patients. Keeping them engaged and interacting with other staff members makes for a better experience for patients, and in turn, a more profitable practice.