We all want to provide a high level of service to our patients. Your practice is profitable because a continued flow of patients comes through your door. Lost opportunities are common with new patients. There are five factors involved in receiving new patients for treatment:
Great treatment, a great experience and great care for your existing patients - these patients are your ambassadors for future patients with referrals.
Referrals if you’re a specialist.
The new patient's phone call
Converting a new patient into treatment
Possibly retaining that patient for further treatment, continuing care, etc.
These are potential lost opportunities as I see them. I believe each of the areas must have a system in place to ensure uniformity for patients and staff alike. They need to be monitored and changed to suit your practice if they’re not working.
I will go into more detail with each point:
1. “Culture = Values + Behaviour” - Lt George Flynn, USMC (ret).
We had a team-building session years ago, and as part of that, the facilitator talked about three key areas. I believe these align across all healthcare settings. The three aspects of care are what I believe to be the behaviour of your practice.
Clinical Excellence - 1/3 rd
Teamwork - 1/3 rd
Customer Service - 1/3 rd
The values are what the owner believes is important to them and their practice. Base your work outcomes and philosophy of the practice around these values.
If you think about the values and behaviours all the time, you will give your patients everything entailed in the first factor. Great treatment, a great experience and great care. If your values and behaviours all match up, it will naturally be a positive environment for your patients. Productivity naturally flows in workplaces like this and patients will talk about the practice positively to their friends and family.
2. If you are lucky enough to have a colleague espouse your work, pat yourself on the back! When a referral is received, ensure that the patient is contacted ASAP. I have seen so many referrals just go into filing awaiting the patient to call the practice. If you are too busy, ensure that you advise the referrer.
Be wary not to turn your referrers away.
If you cannot accommodate your referrers' patients - let your referrers know!
Ensure you continue to deliver the highest care you always have. Remember teamwork, clinical excellence and customer service.
If feedback to the referrer from their patients is negative, they will just stop referring.
All referrers must be thanked! It may be a personal card to a patient or flowers or a hamper to the practice referrer, (if they refer many patients). This is all part of relationship building. Obviously, as part of your clinic correspondence, you will advise the referrer of the outcome of the referral.
3. The new patient phone call would have to be one of the biggest lost opportunities. This is generally the first time the patient has had contact with your practice. I believe that there should be a new patient script that is innate to your practice. Sometimes it can be as easy as finding out five things that brought them to your practice. How and why? There needs to be time spent to start that relationship - the call cannot be rushed. A positive experience at this point can cement that they have made the right decision to call.
4. Treatment conversions can be the biggest hurdle. It’s all about understanding the patient's needs and offering services to suit those needs. Follow-up is also the key. These consultations need to be tailored to your practice. Understanding concerns from previous patients can also help mitigate that non-conversion of treatment in future dealings with new patients.
5. Continuing care or being placed on a referral - if you are doing everything as stated above, the patient should be happy to be placed on recall or proceed with continuing care. I have found from experience that if a person is recommended to practice, their first contact with the practice is professional, and their first consult is also conducted in this matter, they will generally proceed with treatment.
➡️ New patient is referred by a friend.
➡️ Their new patient call and first consultation cement their friends' recommendation.
➡️ They commence treatment - the clinic staff know their stuff and the practice is a happy place.
➡️ These patients are then the ones who refer their friends and family.
The entire team needs to be on board, and this takes time and effort from the leadership team.
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This is a personal blog. Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of people, institutions or organisations that the owner may or may not be associated with in a professional or personal capacity unless explicitly stated. Any views or opinions are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club organisation, company, or individual.