How to Effectively Manage Your Patient Experience Workflows for your Dental Practice

When was the last time you had an exceptional experience with a business?

Think about the experience at a high level: how it made you feel, what you remember, and how you shared your experience with the people you know.

Now break down the whole of your experience into its fundamental ingredients: the interactions you had, the people who made those interactions happen, and the elements that made your experience delightful, convenient, and memorable.

Now think about your clinic from your patients’ perspective: Are you providing a delightful, convenient, and memorable experience that’s worth talking about in a similar way?

Now is the time to reexamine your dental clinic’s patient experience from end to end. Keep reading for a breakdown of four key patient experience elements, and how you can optimize the workflow of each to increase retention and ultimately acquire new patients for your clinic.

What Is a Patient Experience Workflow?

Before we dive into specifics, you may be wondering: what is a “patient experience workflow”?

Your patient experience workflows are any step-by-step processes that make up the elements of your patients’ experiences with your clinic.

An example: Grace is a patient at your clinic who needed an emergency procedure to fix a chipped tooth. Your clinic was able to accommodate her request for a same-day appointment, and Grace received a follow up email with detailed after-care instructions and an online payment link immediately after her appointment. Grace was so happy with the experience that she left a positive Google review.

Your workflows that contributed to Grace’s experience are made up of all the tasks required to make these elements happen:

  • Same-day booking
  • Quick, detailed after-care instructions
  • Online payment

Patient Experience Workflow Teardowns: How to Improve Patient Touchpoints with Your Clinic

When you’re re-evaluating your clinic’s workflows, think of your patient experience as a journey that has a beginning, middle, and end.

Your patient experience doesn’t begin in your clinic; it starts before your patient even has an interaction with a dentist. The patient’s interactions begin when they book an appointment, and then they “end” with ongoing communication so your clinic remains top of mind.

Here are four patient experience workflows to audit for their delight, convenience, and memorability:

Workflow #1: Booking appointments and reminders

Traditional workflow

Patient calls clinic → Reception answers → Reception checks clinic calendar → Appointment is booked → Reception calls patient to remind them about their appointment

Improved workflow

Patient visits clinic’s website or Facebook page → Patient books appointment → Patient’s appointment is recorded in a real-time, universal clinic calendar → Patient receives automated email and text reminders about their appointment

Why online booking improves patient experience

  • Off-hours booking availability
  • Reduction in availability errors
  • More opportunities to reschedule appointments

Requirements

  • HIPAA-compliant messaging
  • EHR and other practice management software integrations
  • Staff training

Did you know…?

– Nearly 3 out of 4 patients book appointments during off hours.
According to a study by Accenture, 77% of patients think it’s important to be able to book, change, or cancel appointments online with their healthcare provider.
– On average, clinics are losing $200 for every 60 minutes of missed appointment.

Workflow #2: Collecting patient health history

Traditional workflow

Patient books appointment → Patient arrives at clinic for appointment → Patient checks in at reception → Reception asks for patient information and history at check in → Reception records information in a hard copy file

Improved workflow

Patient books appointment → Patient receives email requesting information and history → Patient fills out a digital form → Information flows back into EHR → Automated email is sent six months later requesting information update

Why online forms improve patient experience

  • Faster in-person check-in
  • Reduction in patient information errors
  • Information centralization

Requirements

  • HIPAA-compliant forms
  • EHR and other practice management software integrations
  • Staff training

Workflow #3: Appointment payment

Traditional workflow

Patient finishes appointment → Patient waits at reception → Reception collects payment via credit or debit → Reception records payment information manually

Improved workflow

Patient finishes appointment → Patient leaves clinic → Patient receives automated email and/or text message with link → Patient pays for appointment via online payment portal → Payment information is stored

Why online payment improves patient experience

  • Eliminates extra wait time at reception
  • Contactless payment increases patient safety
  • Reduction in payment communication errors
  • Ability to pay for telehealth appointments

Requirements

  • No-account payment portal
  • EHR and other practice management software integrations

Did you know…?

In March 2019, contactless payments in the U.S. rose by 150%.

Workflow #4: Post-appointment communication

Traditional workflow

Patient finishes appointment → Reception provides hard copy of at-home care instructions → Communication ends

Improved workflow

Patient finishes appointment → Patient receives email and/or text with at-home care instructions → Patient receives link to leave an online review → Patient leaves online review → Patient receives email/text follow ups for regular check ups → Patient receives special birthday message → etc.

Why online post-appointment communication improves patient experience

  • Accessible, personalized at-home care instructions
  • More two-way communication opportunities with clinic
  • Regular check up reminders
  • Better understanding that clinic cares about health outcomes

Requirements

  • HIPAA-compliant messaging
  • EHR and other practice management software integrations
  • Staff training

Did you know…?

Email marketing creates $38 in revenue for every dollar invested 84% of people trust online reviews when making consumer decisions

Automation may not be the answer to all your workflow woes, but if used correctly, it will free your staff from busy work and allow them to focus on improving the patient experience in more meaningful ways.

Ready to improve patient experience at your clinic? Learn more about why dentists are using NexHealth to get patients to choose their practice over others.

Request a Demo…

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