Despite years of technological improvements in electronic medical records, most clinics still rely on an obsolete patient onboarding process. Between patients filling out paper forms and staff data entry the whole experience can be an event to be endured.
Worse yet, impersonal patient onboarding can result in patients abandoning care before it really begins. Resulting in a loss of potential impact and revenues.
Therapists are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Participation with insurance companies requires precise patient data to get paid properly. A lot of productive clinic treatment time is consumed by filling out and storing patient information.
I know how impatient I get when my schedule is tight and a patient takes an eternity to complete an Oswestry Questionnaire. We all could use that extra 15-20 minutes to take a good medical history and immediately start helping patients.
Also, think of how much support staff time is involved in capturing, entering and storing information. The paperwork can become a major distraction to a positive patient-provider experience. Once that first impression is made it’s difficult to change it.
The healthcare industry is not known for providing ecceptional customer service. In the past, a good doctor or therapist could get away with poor bedside manners just because the services were in short supply. Not anymore.
There is way too much competition to deliver below average customer service. Social media and consumer review websites make it easy for disgruntled patients to share their experiences with the world.
Patients are becoming more consumer-like as they shop for solutions for their healthcare problems. Making an effort to provide all your patients a remarkable patient experience is the best investment you can make in your practice.
In upcoming blog posts, I’m going to discuss key touch points in the patient lifecycle. I’ll show you how to capitalize on those touch points to deliver remarkable patient experiences without adding to your workload.
Your onboarding process is a good starting point because every patient relationship has a beginning. Armed with the right strategy you can make significant improvement starting that relationship on the right foot. Fortunately, there are useful technologies you can use to streamline your onboarding process that are extremely effective and affordable.
Remarkable Patient Onboarding
Onboarding is a simple way of showing hospitality.
Hospitality is defined as a friendly, generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors or strangers. If you don’t have a hospitable onboarding process you’re losing patients due non-engagement and patient churn.
The success of your onboarding flow relies heavily on the initial welcome.
Your initial welcome should be personable, informative and clear. One important thing to remember about welcoming people to your business is that it’s the start of a two-way conversation. A sound onboarding conversation will continue for weeks and hopefully for many years.
A remarkable onboarding experience communicates your practice brand, values, and expectations for a successful patient outcome. But it doesn’t end there. The onboarding process guides the patient into becoming a happy contributor through consistent communication, feedback, and loyalty.
Remember the golden rule. Onboard people like you would like to be onboarded.
We are in the process of remodeling our kitchen. The number of choices in appliances, cabinets, flooring etc. can be overwhelming. We naturally drift towards the experts who listen to us, answer our questions,describe the process, and explain the costs.
Likewise, think of a business that recently onboarded you into their business in an outstanding manner. Emulate the behaviors that made a favorable impression on you.
Forgettable Patient Onboarding
In contrast, let’s take a look at the current patient intake process of most therapy practices. Patient intake–I can hardly stand the term. You wouldn’t intake a visitor into your home so why do we think we can simply ‘intake’ strangers into our clinics. Typical onboarding asks patients to fill out multiple forms with personal information accompanied by uncomfortable waiting.
Think of this way. You’re hosting a get together at your home. You’ve prepared for weeks so that everyone will have a good time. You’ve cleaned, cooked food, purchased the right beverages, invited guests and planned the entertainment. It’s the big day and people start arriving at the front door.
The first thing you do is hand them a clipboard and tell them to write down a bunch of personal information. Then you ask them for an i.d. so you can verify if they are the legal drinking age. Talk about a party pooper! You wouldn’t do that.
Of course not, you’d show hospitality and welcome each of your guests into your home. If you do make a good first impression it’s a good chance that the rest of the party will go great.
Very few people enjoy filling out forms and sitting in a room with a bunch of strangers. Most of your clients shop, pay bills, and renew their driver’s license all within the convenience and comfort of their home.
Shouldn’t our patient onboarding experience be just as convenient and pleasurable? The good news is that we now have the technology to make the patient onboarding experience efficient, secure and effortless.
The patient onboarding process doesn’t have to be time-consuming and out-of-date. There are 4 key touch points in the patient lifecycle where new technologies can streamline your onboarding process.
1. Digital patient onboarding forms– it’s the easiest and least expensive way to enhance your onboarding process.
2. Automated Email Welcome Series– simple, informative and personable welcome emails are automatically sent out to new patients.
3. Online scheduling & appointment reminders– online scheduling allows patients to schedule their own appointments and it automatically sends appointment reminders.
4. Frictionless payments– proper methods for communicating and streamlining the patient payment process.
The success of your patient onboarding depends heavily on the first patient touch points. You can use technology to enhance your patients experience while keeping time investment and costs manageable.
There are several easy to implement strategies and technologies that will work great for your practice, no matter the size. I will cover several different options along with my favorite choices in future blog posts. So stay tuned.
In the meantime, here are three links that will provide you background reading to help you get started on turning your patient intake process into a remarkable patient-provider experience.
Paul Potter is a physical therapist and mentor who lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, with his wife, who is also a therapist. They have four daughters. For more than 35 years he successfully managed his own private practice. He now shares his knowledge and experience through teaching and mentoring therapists who want to have their own practice.
He has authored On Fire: Ignite Your Passion with a Cash Therapy Practice and the Cash Practice From Scratch Course. His website PaulPotterpt.com is dedicated to helping therapists achieve professional and financial freedom. Connect with Paul on his website or on LinkedIn paulpotterpt. You can also get more free resources at CashPracticeFromScratch.com