How might a company like Uber or Lyft revitalize your patient onboarding experience?
The days are gone when I hailed a cab to get a ride from the airport to my hotel. Now getting a ride is as simple as pulling out your smartphone, tapping a Uber or Lyft app and waiting for your ride to show up.
The experience is much more convenient and enjoyable. While I wait for my driver, I’m entertained by watching little cars drive around on my phone like a video game.The app handles the money exchange, the driver seems to be a regular guy so I normally sit back and strike up a friendly conversation.
I can see how ride-sharing services have rapidly established themselves as an alternative to the traditional paid transportation experience.–driver in control, the rider in the backseat, awkward conversation and payment is through a meter which I never quite trust. They drive, you pay.
I got to wondering what practice owners can learn from the ride-sharing phenomenon and apply it to our patient intake process. Rather than keeping our patient intake process like a cab ride to be endured, how might we reinvent it to be more like a satisfying ride-sharing experience?
Lessons From Lyft
There are two shared-ride companies that dominate the market. Both have been around for years. Uber has grown into a giant company located in many U.S. cities and all over the world. Lyft, a company with origins in Zimride, a carpooling company, has always intrigued me because of their unique approach.
Since I owned a small private practice I naturally pull for the underdog. I’m always on the look out for creative strategies that smaller companies use to compete with the big boys. Lyft has positioned itself in the marketplace without sacrificing it’s core value just to make a buck.
I thought it might benefit your practice if we looked at how a relatively small company like Lyft stays competitive with Uber. There are lessons to be learned on how to create a memorable customer experience that leads to profitable growth while still having a lot of fun.
3 Lessons To Revitalize Your Patient Onboarding
1. The Receptionist-Patient Relationship Is Your Greatest Asset
Lyft differentiates itself from Uber because it places a high value on its drivers. Lyft encourages drivers to put their fingerprints on the customer’s experience–decorate their cars, share the local culture or anything else they can think of to make it more personable.
Therapists will eventually establish a positive provider-patient relationship with most of their clients. But the initial ‘driver’ of the onboarding experience is the first person they meet.
Whoever takes the first phone call or is the first face to face encounter is your greatest asset. Seek to create a culture where this front line person is empowered to provide a remarkable experience.
The culture that Lyft has created isn’t only about the customer experience. They have equally emphasized a positive driver community where drivers have fun at their jobs. Lyft drivers naturally figure out their own ways on to make passengers happier. In turn, the driver’s job satisfaction rises and everybody wins.
Seek to strategically create a front office culture where your team members are empowered and rewarded to put their own touches on the patient onboarding experience.
Encourage employees to share best practices with one another to create their own style of welcoming patients. Create written scripts of what works so experienced receptionists can train new employees. A positive first impression is too important to leave to chance.
2. Keep Your Patient Onboarding Fresh
Lyft was known in the beginning for those big, fluffy pink mustaches attached to the front of a car’s grill. While the mustaches have gone by the wayside Lyft’s responsiveness to customer preferences has not.
Rather forcing tradition on passengers Lyft now allows customers to sit in the front or back seat. Sometimes people talk but they are not expected to. Lyft has responded to a fast changing marketplace where it’s easy to quickly become out of touch with customers.
We should strive to keep our onboarding process up to date with client expectations. As patients experience remarkable customer service at Zappos or Amazon they will naturally come to expect more of the same experience from their healthcare providers.
Build upon your unique strengths and culture as you incorporate innovative ideas from other successful companies. Avoid the temptation to chase after the hottest customer service tactic but stay true to your clinic’s personality.
Your secret sauce will be to create a unique ecosystem where your team and patients feel as sense of community with one another.
Throughout Lyft’s evolution as a billion dollar company, it hasn’t forgotten about its core founding principle–community. Even with a heavy reliance on technology, the Lfyt leadership is constantly reminding drivers and passengers that people are important.
We live in times where more and more services are being delivered in an impersonal way. ATMs and Target self-checkouts are replacing human interactions with faceless machines. In our own industry telehealth has gradually become more accepted as a cost effective way to deliver healthcare.
Your patients usually have plenty of choices of where they can receive healthcare. All things being equal the practice that has the strongest community will attract and retain the most patients.
3. Use Technology Wisely To Make Onboarding Convenient
Ride-sharing services like Lyft and Uber work because of technology. Take smartphones out of the equation and most of us would still be hailing cabs. Given today’s alternatives, most people will choose ride-sharing because it’s so easy.
When you want to book a ride with Uber or Lyft, you simply open an app on your phone. You request a ride, enter your destination and the app immediately contacts nearby available drivers.
When a driver accepts your request, you’ll get your driver’s name, the make and model of their car, a headshot and their approximate arrival time. Uber also gives you the option to share the cost of the ride with other people.
The entire experience, from booking the ride, tracking the car via GPS and paying for your trip are all handled by the app. The technology makes the experience more convenient and pleasurable for passengers and drivers.
More of our patients are accustomed to shopping and filling out forms online. Consumers have come to expect that traditional paperwork is done online prior to the visit. Data collection done ahead of time frees up valuable time for face to face interactions between you and your patients.
Clinics can differentiate themselves from the competition by providing a paperless onboarding process. Patients want smooth, seamless experiences from practices who value efficiency and simplicity. As a way to justify paying the high costs, patients are demanding more value from their healthcare providers than ever before.
Use Technology Wisely To Make Onboarding Cost Effective
For example, you may have a receptionist who spends half her day handing out and organizing patient intake forms. You might also have staff who answers the phone and schedules appointments.
Let’s face it, labor is costly. Basic administrative staff, like receptionists and schedulers all, add to your overhead. If you can use technology to combine these positions, you can eliminate some of them all together.
Software that seamlessly integrates into your EMR and billing software allows you and your staff to focus on building positive patient relationships. A well-designed app can create that balance between high tech and high touch that most of us are striving for.
If you want your business to grow, you have to constantly improve the patient experience. Practices that create a remarkable patient experience will be rewarded with return visits and referrals.
Focus: Build Community
Technology at its best allows us to actively make personal connections with other people. It should not replace the human touch that is so important in healthcare.
Your onboarding experience is a vital part of relating to other people as valuable human beings. Most people want to be recognized as a unique person and treated with respect.
Create a community that emphasizes an individual’s value whether they are patients, front office personnel or professional staff. If we cultivate a healthy community among our staff it will naturally overflow to our patients and be reflected in a remarkable onboarding experience that everyone enjoys.
Share with the community an idea you put into action that created a remarkable patient 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