For physical therapy clinics and wellness organizations alike, patient satisfaction remains a critical source of competitive advantage. And in the age of social distancing and Covid-19, the patient experience is now more important than ever.
What is patient experience?
The patient experience encompasses a range of interactions and emotions that patients have with their health care systems and wellness organizations. From the clinicians and staff to health plans and resources, patient experience can depend on a whole host of factors.
Patient experience can dictate your ability to attract and retain patients at your physical therapy clinic. When patients form positive relationships and trust with your services and staff, they become more engaged in their plan of care and develop loyalty to your organization.
This drives word-of-mouth marketing and referrals for your PT clinic, creating customers that are loyal advocates of your brand. More importantly, however, as patient experience is positive, patient engagement increases, driving better results for your patients and their wellness journeys.
And with the recent changes society’s undergone to accommodate Covid-19, PT clinics and the wellness industry, in general, took a hit.
Covid-19 changed how businesses and people operate for good
The widespread economic fallout of the pandemic left no country untouched. Small business owners around the US and the world must now navigate through the uncertainty of Covid-19’s impact on commerce and society.
According to a survey from McKinsey, 81% of respondents in healthcare systems and services are considering or implementing changes in the use of technology and systems, and 76% are re-evaluating the core processes and how the company is run.
But even across industries, this change has upheld.
97% of corporate decision-makers believe that the pandemic has spurred digital transformation, and 79% expect increased investment in this. As society adopted a “new normal” and shifted into quarantines and isolations, we also found even more dependency on the invisible architectures supporting us.
For healthcare and wellness practices, this is no different. Finding ways to adapt and provide an empowering patient experience is critical to business success in our uncertain world.
It’s important to improve the patient experience amidst Covid-19
Across industries, delivering a positive experience for your customers and patrons is critical to a successful business.
The patient experience is critical to physical therapy clinics and practices because you’re strengthening and cultivating patients for life who are also the lifeblood of your referral engine. When you make patients happy, you’re adding momentum to your marketing flywheel — a concept created by Hubspot — that focuses on engaging and delighting your customers to the point of organic business continuity.
From higher ROI and improved margins to improving the population’s health and wellbeing, patient experience is important for you and the people you serve.
5 best practices to deliver a positive patient experience:
1. Communicate the changes you’ve made to keep patients safe
With everything that’s happened in 2020, we don’t always remember or retain everything we’ve seen. Communicating with your physical therapy clients about the changes you’ve made to protect them is an important foundation for building back relationships and strengthening existing ones with your patients.
Whether you’re using newsletters, patient portal messaging, website pages, or posters around your clinic, outline and emphasize the steps you’re taking for their safety. Cleaning tables between sessions, using hand sanitizer and face masks/shields are all important to include when sharing your safety standards.
2. Go touchless and virtual (when you can)
With the technology and solutions for physical therapy management and clinics, you can make almost any physical therapy process or paperwork digital.
From paperless forms that your patients can fill out from their own phones to touchless payment and billing systems, there’s very little need for physical contact aside from prescribed manual therapy treatment .
Redirecting resources toward a business strategy that allows you to go digital (whenever possible) can help you optimize every point on your patient journey, from intake to payment.
3. Be easily accessible for your patients
Your patients expect online scheduling, messaging, and other physical therapy resources when they’re paying for your services. It’s important to be accessible and available to your clients when they need assistance, and you don’t have to be watching 24/7.
With practice management solutions and cloud-based solutions, you can virtualize nearly any service to your patients in real-time. Implementing a telehealth solution, if relevant for your business, can deliver significant ROI and improve your bottom line.
Patient services are also important for this. From double-checking their appointment history or updating paperwork, your patients should be able to access information about your relationship. There are HIPAA-compliant solutions to facilitate and provide these needs for your patients, from industry-wide to physical-therapy specific.
Physical therapy practices that provide online services like patient portals, payment, and paperwork have a leg up against other PT clinics, purely for accessibility and user experience. Make sure your physical therapy patients are satisfied with your level of service and feel confident in the professional nature of your business.
4. Make the most out of your in-person time
When you are in-person, make sure you’re optimizing the time spent. Being in contact with others during a pandemic can be nervewracking for many, so it’s important to put them at ease. Physical therapy sessions typically last 30-60 minutes, so make sure you’re actually utilizing that time for them. Using that time for paperwork, payments, or other administrative tasks will likely frustrate your patients if becoming a regular instance.
Providing home exercise programs with a clear plan and critical takeaways after meetings can significantly improve your patient’s progress and physical therapy outcomes. Instead of handing over exercises printed on paper, you can create higher levels of accountability and motivation for your patients with HEP videos, daily health trackers, and an activity log.
5. Follow up after appointments
As mentioned previously, utilizing your time with patients is important for everyone. Prioritizing regular check-ins between appointments is important to reinforce an ongoing relationship, and crucial to securing engagement. PT clinics can do this through personalized interactions, social media, customer service, or even focused marketing campaigns across digital touchpoints.
When filling out patient intake paperwork, ask their preferred method of communication to improve this engagement. Tailoring communication methods for your individual patients will deliver a more personalized patient experience, build rapport, and is most likely to reach the patients.
Next steps to improve PT patient experience
Improving your patient experience is essential to maintaining current patients and bringing in new ones. By following the five tips above, you can actively play a role in strengthening relationships and driving results for everyone involved.
With a practice management solution customized specifically for physical therapy clinics and business owners, you can improve patient engagement, simplify your management processes, and focus more on what matters most.
PtEverywhere gives you the tools to engage with prospective new clients through the PtE app, so you can access contact information and nurture the relationship until they’re ready to become patients. Designed to simplify the management of your practice, you can schedule, document, invoice, and communicate directly with your patients from one easy-to-use interface.
Empower your patients and give yourself the freedom to focus on patient care and improving patient outcomes, backed by transparent data you need to keep your clinic competitive.