Child and her mother at a consultation with their pediatrician.

3 Tips to Improve the Patient Experience in Your Pediatric Practice

The following guest post was written by Alex Warner, son of PCC’s client Dr. Robin Warner of Union Pediatrics in Union, Kentucky.

When it comes to medical care, one of the most important things to your practice is the patient experience. Whether a child is seeing you for a sick visit, a checkup, or a vaccination, their time spent in your office will be the deciding factor in whether or not they’ll continue to see you. In this article, we will explore three ways you can improve your patient’s experience during the time that they spend in your office.

Tip 1: Hire the Right Staff

In every office, it is critical to establish a culture. This is especially true in your practice, where the entire patient experience is based on customer service. As a physician or an office manager, it’s up to you to decide what kind of culture you want to have in your office moving forward. In any case, you want your culture to improve the overall patient experience, and this all starts with building the right team.

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From the moment a patient walks through your door, they’re engaging with your employees, person to person. In these moments, it is essential to the identity of your practice that these employees embody what your practice seeks to represent. Every individual person is unique and can bring multiple things to the table, some negative and some positive. Don’t settle for the employee who meets the bare minimum. Instead, actively seek out people who genuinely believe in your office’s mission and want to spread it to patients and their families. Paul Vanchiere, of Pediatric Management Institute, noted that when hiring office staff the following 10 things require zero talent: Being on time, work ethic, effort, energy, body language, attitude, passion, being prepared, doing extra, and being coachable. Keep that in mind next time you find yourself wondering if a potential employee is the perfect fit.

When adding new employees to your team, you might discover that your applicant pool isn’t quite up to your standards. In many cases, this is a result of the increasing amount of similar paying jobs in the area, and it might be prudent for you to raise your salaries and actively advertise to attract more potential employees. The value that is brought from the perfect employee is worth far more than the few extra dollars an hour keeping them from applying for your position.

Tip 2: Set Expectations and Establish a Protocol

In the previous section, we referenced “being coachable” as one of 10 things that require zero talent. So once you’ve assembled your ideal staff, it is necessary for everyone to be willing to learn and grow. Your staff should be prepared for any and every possible outcome, and this can be achieved with the proper training.

By standardizing customer service, your office’s efficiency and overall service quality will improve dramatically. Set expectations for your employees and train them accordingly. For example, a thank you is never met with a, “You’re welcome” but always with a, “My pleasure.” Consider implementing such practices in your office as well. Your efficiency could skyrocket when your receptionists greet guests in a consistent fashion, or when a patient files a complaint and everyone knows exactly how to resolve the situation appropriately. If this kind of culture is established from the very beginning, it will continue in your office for years to come. “That’s the way it’s always been done around here” is a mentality that can either hurt or help your business immensely.

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If you have a problem employee at any point, address the issue head on with them privately. Let them know that this is a place of work and there are certain expectations and standards that need to be met. No one in an office should get special treatment or be considered above those standards. If they’re not on board with that, then consider letting them go. One bad influence in an office can change the entire mentality of the practice and undermine whatever authority you once had. So, hold your employees accountable and treat them equally, whether they were hired yesterday or twenty years ago.

Tip 3: Improve Your Atmosphere

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Does your practice exude happiness and comfort, or is it outdated and uninviting? When designing or redesigning your office space, keep the patient and their family in mind, and make your environment one that is conducive to positivity. It has been scientifically proven that colors, natural lighting, and furnishings/decorations affect a person’s moods in different ways. Consider consulting an interior designer for some useful tips and tricks, or read this helpful article to get 10 ways to improve your pediatric waiting room experience. Paying attention to seating options, colors, privacy, and technology can all generate a positive patient experience.

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