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Consumer behavior has shifted across industries in various ways over the past few years. Businesses in every sector must evolve the way that they approach their customers and clients to remain viable. Today, companies compete mostly on customer experience.
Customers see little difference between companies and providers. It’s the experience patients take away from interactions that guide future behavior, transcending products, services, and even outcomes. Even in intensely personal interactions, including in healthcare, experience is an essential factor in decision-making.
Consumers today have choices. Failing to create a positive patient experience can put your chiropractic practice at risk. According to the National Institute of Health/National Library of Medicine: “Patient experience has become a critical differentiator for healthcare organizations, and it will only grow in importance as transparency and consumerism dominate the healthcare landscape.”
If recent studies are any indication, though, we’ve got a long way to go. Research indicates that customer experience is the primary determining factor in choice for 89% of consumers, more than double from a decade ago, when brand loyalty, familiarity, and performance were the primary drivers. For chiropractors and others, here’s where the problem lies: 80% of organizations believe that they deliver a superior customer experience already, but just 8% of consumers agree.
Patient experience is becoming more important in healthcare, especially for new patients. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reports that the patient experience has become an integral component of healthcare quality. Besides patient care, the patient experience encompasses every touchpoint, including timeliness and ease of making appointments, access to information online, and good communication with providers.
Patient experience is especially important for new patients, who may make long-term care decisions based on first impressions. A poor first-time experience can cost you thousands of dollars in potential business. With the lifetime value of chiropractic patients ranging from $1,000 to $3,000, you cannot afford to risk it.
Providing an exceptional patient experience is key to growing and building your practice and a sustainable revenue model.
Why Is the Patient Experience So Critical?
Patient experience is crucial in chiropractic practices because patients have plenty of choices. There are more than 70,000 chiropractors in the US, so most patients have multiple options for providers within a short drive from their homes. At the same time, 2,500 new chiropractic students graduate and enter the workforce annually.
If patients have a poor experience at one chiropractor, they’ll simply go to another.
In general, patients believe that the treatments that they can get will be the same regardless of where they go and that the cost structures are similar. In the absence of other distinguishing features, such as a superior customer experience, chiropractic can be seen as a commodity.
The Benefits of a Great Patient Experience
In medicine, there is a direct correlation between high patient experience scores and the bottom line. For example, hospitals that consistently rank among the top in patient satisfaction scores have net margins that are 50% higher than those with average to poor patient experience scores.
An exceptional patient experience positively impacts reputation and referrals and improves patient retention. It enables you to optimize your marketing and patient acquisition costs and maximize your revenue per patient.
A great patient experience can be a significant competitive advantage in the marketplace.
There’s also a direct connection between a positive patient experience and better outcomes. A strong patient experience reflects trust and confidence in healthcare providers. Patients are more likely to adhere to treatment and care plans and follow through on recommendations.
The Challenges of Poor Patient Experiences
A negative patient experience can hurt your practice in several ways. Not only will patient attrition increase, but unhappy patients will also tell their friends. In today’s connected world, social media means they can tell the whole world about their poor experience.
They may also leave negative reviews online, which can influence potential patients. Most people read reviews before choosing a healthcare provider, so these have a significant impact. About 95% of patients consider online reviews an important part of selecting a provider, and 75% of patients say that they won’t consider a healthcare provider with an average star rating of fewer than four stars.
So, even if you run a great practice and have thousands of happy patients, one bad experience can cause problems.
Beyond losing patients, there are other potential financial impacts. Certain insurance carriers and government insurance programs are beginning to look at patient satisfaction surveys to determine program acceptance and insurance reimbursement rates.
A study from the American Journal of Medicine shows that healthcare providers that score poorly in patient satisfaction surveys tend to receive more complaints, including malpractice lawsuits. Doctors scoring in the bottom third had 110% more malpractice suits than those with top ratings. Besides legal bills, this can impact your insurance rates.
Improving the Chiropractic Patient Experience
The patient experience starts before they even meet you, with your online interactions. Improving the patient experience today requires you to ensure that your digital presence is robust. Half of all patients say that a bad digital experience ruins the entire patient experience.
Patients want a more streamlined and modern patient experience. They expect it and failing to do so is a risk. One in every four patients says that they would stop going to their healthcare provider over a poor digital experience.
Not every potential patient understands that search engines rank website pages based on relevance, search engine optimization, and advertising spend. They assume that the top results in Google must be the best fit for their search. So, taking care of your website and online marketing is an essential part of establishing yourself as a high-quality provider.
Consumers rarely go past page one on search results. More than a quarter of all online searchers click on the first result, and 88% of all searchers click on the top ten.
Your website is one of the first impressions that patients will have, and it makes a big difference. If your website looks dated or unprofessional, it can send a negative message. A modern chiropractic website should make it easy for patients to find what they need quickly and handle basic things like booking appointments and onboarding.
Patients today expect to be able to easily book appointments online without having to call or text. If you don’t have a self-service way for patients to book appointments, you are at a significant competitive disadvantage. About 68% of patients report that they are more likely to choose a healthcare provider that offers the ability to book, change, and cancel appointments online.
Patients also expect reminders to inform them when their appointments are coming up. While automated reminders help enhance the patient experience, they are also important for reducing no-shows.
Online Patient Onboarding
Online patient onboarding can help improve the patient experience. It demonstrates that you are running a modernized business and enables patients to fill out the necessary information on their own time at home. This means when they arrive for their appointment, you can get them in for evaluations and treatments quicker.
Online onboarding is also helpful because patients are more likely to fill them out entirely. For example, many patients show up for appointments and may not have their insurance information, documentation, or medications on hand.
You can also make sure they have acknowledged a HIPAA or consent form and sent over any other information that you need before showing up at the office.
Warm and Welcoming Environment
When patients do show up at your office, they want a warm and welcoming environment. This means a clean, professional appearance with comfortable furniture. At a minimum, they expect friendly and knowledgeable staff members who can provide answers and are trained on processes, procedures, and customer service.
The longer that patients have to wait for treatment, the lower they tend to rate their satisfaction with their healthcare provider. About 84% of those surveyed said that wait times play an important role in the overall patient experience. Online intakes can help, along with the right practice management software tools for efficiently checking in patients and handling patient flow.
If you have even minimal wait times, you may want to offer things to improve the experience, such as free Wi-Fi and water, coffee, or other refreshments.
Much of the patient experience with your practice happens before you even meet the patient. What occurs when you do get to interact with patients will make or break the entire experience.
Chiropractors need to be human and compassionate and allow patients to talk.
One study showed that doctors interrupt patients after just twelve seconds on average. This can make patients hesitant to continue talking or letting you know how they feel. If patients feel like you’re rushing them, it hurts the experience. Even if you’ve heard the same symptoms hundreds of times before and know the best treatment options, remember that it’s vital to let the patient talk and then educate them about the process, if necessary.
Chiropractors should practice active listening and encourage patients to share their perspectives. This prevents you from making quick assumptions or missing important information.
Your attention also needs to be focused on patients and not the technology. In the age of electronic medical records, it can often seem like doctors spend more time clicking and typing on the screen than actually having discussions with patients. This can undermine any relationship building. Tech should be a tool, not a replacement for human interaction.
For example, when you are writing SOAP notes, you want to include all the necessary information, but you want to do it as quickly as possible so you don’t take away from patient interactions. Your chiropractic patient management software should allow for macros so you can shortcut transcription and use auto-SALT capabilities, even for exams.
The quality of patient outcomes is often determined by their expectations, so you must be clear about everything regarding the patient experience. For example, be transparent with the patient about their treatment options, outcome (including potential adverse effects), length of treatment, and pricing.
Once you set these expectations, it is also vital to track progress against your goals, to demonstrate that the treatment is working and that you are living up to what you’ve told the patient.
A major part of improving the patient experience is focusing on patient education.
For example, chiropractors know that healing often takes time. While some patients may see initial pain relief or gains in mobility after a few visits, it can often take multiple visits over four to six weeks to see significant improvement. Patients can get uncomfortable with the time and cost unless they fully understand how chiropractic treatments work. Since pain relief can occur in small increments after treatments, patients may have trouble measuring progress realistically. Chiropractors need to evaluate pain levels consistently to show progress.
Patients also need to do their part to heal. The best outcomes occur when patients actively participate in their care plan. This may include home exercises, lifestyle changes, or restrictions on certain activities. That said, seven in ten patients don’t follow doctor suggestions about care once they’re out of the office. Education can help ensure that patients understand the importance of following through with treatment plans.
Your practice management software can help by making it easy to create detailed care plans that help patients stay on track.
Wrapping Up Visits
When treatments are concluded, patients want to leave as quickly as possible. Make the patient experience quicker by offering integrated payment options. You should be able to store card information, schedule recurring payments, and make payments simple by including eCheck/ACH payments.
You should also be able to easily provide any necessary documentation in case patients need to file paperwork with their employers or insurance carriers.
Don’t forget to get feedback on the patient experience. You may think that everything’s going great, only find that there are problems when patients don’t return. It’s better to know if there are things that you need to fix, so you can fix them. You may also find that patients do feel that you are providing a superior patient experience. If that’s the case, you want to know about that too!
You should also benchmark patient satisfaction and track it over time. Since it’s so crucial to your success, you want to make sure you continue to provide a satisfying patient experience over time.
When you do find areas that could use improvement, address the shortfalls quickly and directly. Let patients know when you’ve listened to their suggestions and taken action. You can often turn around patients who feel that they had a poor experience by acknowledging the issue and taking action to fix it. This can turn a negative situation into a positive one and actually increase patient loyalty.
How CHIROSPRING Enhances the Patient Experience
CHIROSPRING enhances the patient experience at every step of the process, from the first patient interactions to during their visits and when they are done.
Besides making your chiropractic practice run more efficiently, CHIROSPRING provides all the practice management tools that you need to provide an excellent patient experience every time. It’s built by chiropractors, so you get everything that you need in one chiropractic software system, including the features that help provide the best patient experience.
Patients can see openings in real time and schedule their appointments online 24/7.
Reminders are sent automatically. Patients can quickly confirm status with two-way syncing.
You can eliminate paper and let patients complete their onboarding from home. This saves time when patients arrive at the office.
CHIROSPRING enables you to quickly and easily enter audit-proof SOAP notes. Touch capabilities, customization, macros, and auto SALT enable you to spend more time with patients and less with technology.
Electronic Documentation and Images
You can store and annotate images, attach documentation, and find out everything about a patient’s care with a click of a button. You can even annotate images in the software using advanced annotation tools that are included at no additional charge.
You can submit claims directly on the platform and easily provide the paperwork that patients need if they have to file separately. You can also track your outstanding invoices or insurance charges, and reconciliation is simple with ERAs.
SOAP notes can automatically be converted into claims and billing notices. With CHIROSPRING, you can submit and track claims electronically, eliminating hours of paperwork and reconciliation.
Integrated payments can make check-out a breeze. You can handle ACH payments and store credit or debit cards on file to speed up the process. You can also set up patients on autopay for recurring scheduled payments.
These are just a few of the features that CHIROSPRING provides that can enhance the patient experience and improve the efficiency of your chiropractic practice.
CHIROSPRING is an all-in-one practice management and EHR system built specifically for chiropractors to help them regain face-time with patients, spend less time on back-office tasks, maintain a limited staff, and save operational costs.
To see how CHIROSPRING can help you simplify how you manage your practice, reach out to one of our specialists today!