When a patient enters your office they first experience your waiting room and front desk team. As an OD, you don't always get to witness these interactions and the experience that the patient has. After the front desk the patient usually starts with pre-testing before heading into the exam room, and before the patient leaves your office some time is hopefully spent in your dispensary. To make sure that your patient experience is up to par it's important to analyze each of these areas and not just the time spent with you in the exam room.
To best view your front desk and waiting room area from your patients' perspective, walk into the front door, visit reception, and sit down in the waiting room. Take a look around and really imagine yourself as a patient in your practice. Is the waiting room clean? Modern? Functional? With the high expenses of equipment and software for your practice it's easy to forget about updating smaller things in your waiting room like chairs, decor, and entertainment.
Aside from how your waiting room looks and feels, what is the interaction with your front desk team like? Are patients filling out paper forms, or is traditional paperwork easily inputted straight onto a tablet. The little things can make your waiting room experience stand out from the competition.
Important parts of pre-testing are the pick-up of the patient from the waiting room, an introduction, actual testing, explanation of tests, and the handoff to the OD. Tests and devices can be intimidating, so providing education on the importance of each test and what is to be expected will help put the patient at ease. To get a feel for how your technicians interact during these moments you could line up a "secret shopper" of sorts to help you determine areas of the pre-testing workflow that could use improvement.
To help you better evaluate yourself in the exam lane, you could send your staff through the exam process and have them share what they liked and didn't like. An important part of a patient's time with the doctor is the opportunity to be educated on their eye health and having the confidence to ask questions to learn from the OD's expertise. Make sure you're providing opportunities for this to happen.
You can also create a post-appointment survey and have your patients provide their feedback on the overall experience in your practice. Learning where they are least satisfied will give you a good idea on where to focus your budget and time on improving.
A good patient experience in your optical dispensary is more important now than ever with all the competition you face from online retailers. That great in-person experience is something online companies can't replicate. In the optical you can look at things like how your frame boards are displayed, cleanliness, flow, mirrors, decor, etc. How can you make the patients' buying experience fun and exciting in your office? Is there anything that your opticians need that would help make the selling process easier?
Another way to start evaluating the patient experience is to start internally with your workflow. Download this eBook to help you and your team get started.