Elevating the Healthcare Patient Experience

Introduction

Visiting a doctor isn’t supposed to be fun. People seek healthcare because they need assistance or a check-up, not because they expect to have a great time. However, many people who seek doctor appointments, hospital visits, or clinic walk-ins find the patient care experience incredibly lacking. The healthcare industry is overburdened, and many patients struggle to receive the quality of customer experience that they are hoping for.

This is an industry-wide problem. According to a study by the National Library of Medicine, 61% of respondents in a survey waited between 90-180 minutes at a clinic they attended, and 36% of those patients spent only five minutes with the doctor they came to see. Patients spend a significant amount of their experience in healthcare offices waiting. This leads to poor patient satisfaction with the industry overall.

According to Invoca, 81% of consumers are unsatisfied with their healthcare experience. The industry has gained a reputation as one that isn’t overly invested in providing a seamless customer journey to patients. This damages patient perceptions of the healthcare industry as a whole.

It can be incredibly agitating for a sick or injured patient to sit through hours of waiting with no clear idea in mind of when their consultation will begin. Many healthcare providers have a serious communication gap between staff and patients, and their customer service suffers dramatically because of it.

This doesn’t have to be the case. There are modern solutions to these difficult problems. Medical appointment scheduling software and a virtual queue management system can completely transform the patient journey and create a convenient healthcare experience. Software like Qless dramatically changes patient appointment scheduling and the waiting room process.

Let’s look at why these problems exist, the importance of addressing them, and how Qless and other customer queue management software can help medical providers improve their patient experience.

 

Current Problems with the Patient Experience

Wait times are endemic in the health care industry. It doesn’t matter whether you are visiting a walk-in clinic or an emergency room; there is a good chance you will end up waiting. Most of these waits aren’t going to be short, either. There is a high likelihood that you will spend a large chunk of time in a waiting room, hoping that a doctor or nurse will call your name.

According to The Washington Post, the average wait time in an Emergency Room in the United States is over 40 minutes. Over 16% of all ER visits will involve waiting over an hour. At doctor’s offices, this wait time is less significant. According to Etactics, the average wait time for a scheduled doctor’s appointment is over 18 minutes. This is not a minor amount of time, especially considering you’ve already scheduled that appointment.

Many offices and service providers fall far below patient expectations in this area. A healthcare provider is a business, and customer satisfaction is important in every business. What is similarly damaging about the healthcare experience is the complete lack of communication that patients will often deal with.

There typically aren’t many communication options available to waiting patients hoping to find out more about their wait time. They simply have to sit there and wait for their name. A famous study by David Maister for Columbia showed unknown wait times feel longer than known, finite wait times to those in-line. People sitting in waiting rooms often have zero concept of when their name will be called, which can be incredibly frustrating.

There are a lot of flaws in the patient experience in healthcare, but much of it can be fixed. Opening communication channels and transforming the waiting experience can dramatically improve the experience care providers offer their customers.

 

Why the Patient Experience Matters

While the primary objective of most health care providers is to offer the best care possible to their patients, the healthcare industry is also a business. If you aren’t offering the service your customers were hoping to receive, many providers on the market would be happy to take those patients off your hands. It is a competitive industry, and patient retention is pivotal for long-term viability.

Providing your patients with the best possible customer interactions is one of the ways you will be able to retain them. Great customer care is the biggest priority, but the experience customers have in your office is also significant. According to Silverline, 82% of patients said quality customer service is the most important factor they consider when choosing care.

People value their time, and they want to be treated in a warm and welcoming way. This is only natural. Too often, healthcare companies’ approach to communication does not live up to expectations. For many people, the consumer experience is defined by communication. The same Silverline report found that 62% of people said good communication and continuous engagement is the most important part of their customer service experience.

The patient experience matters because we live in a time where there is an abundance of options available to the average person. If patient concerns about customer service aren’t addressed, they will head to the next hospital, walk-in clinic, or doctor’s office. Along the way, they might tell their friends and leave bad reviews.

The modern healthcare landscape gives consumers a lot of choices. A good customer experience ensures that you will continue to be their primary option.

 

Intro to Appointment Scheduling Software

We’ve talked about problems long enough. Let’s start diving into some solutions. One of the ways to create a patient experience strategy that yields the results you want is to focus on implementing technology. There are a lot of different software solutions out there right now that are specifically designed to ease the burden on healthcare workers and provide a better experience for patients.

One of these tools is appointment scheduling software. For appointment-based industries, providing a seamless way for customers to schedule and organize appointments is important. Qless offers an appointment booking software that is easy on the customer and staff.

Did you know that roughly 27% of medical appointments in North America are missed, according to the National Library of Medicine? This huge wasted opportunity for businesses leads to an estimated loss of $150 billion in revenue every year. While some of this is related to customers, some of the fault can be placed on poor appointment booking and scheduling options.

Qless’ patient appointment scheduling software offers a solution to help clear up this problem for medical offices. Qless has flexible appointment scheduling software for customers and simplified appointment management for staff. If appointments are missed, staff can quickly adjust on the fly by filling in new appointments or allowing walk-ins.

Communication is also made simpler, so staff can notify customers before appointments and hear from them in advance if they do not intend to show up. This makes it much easier to rearrange appointments ahead of time and adapt to changes quickly. Appointments can be organized based on staff, appointment type, and more.

This will create a much smoother process that benefits customers as well. Staff will have a more structured appointment process that keeps their operation running more efficiently.

 

How Appointment Scheduling Software Helps Patients

From the patient’s standpoint, medical office appointment scheduling software can supply a heavily improved overall interaction with a business. In today’s digital world, customer convenience is at a premium. Consumers want instant accessibility at any time of day. Many medical offices are not supplying this with their appointment scheduling.

Many medical offices have call-in appointment booking rather than using technology solutions that make them accessible around the clock. The typical medical office will have a patient base of people of all ages, and younger and middle-aged customers will prefer a virtual solution that allows for easier patient appointment scheduling.

Qless is an appointment software that allows customers to book appointments at any time, no matter where they are. Rather than call-in scheduling, which only works during working hours, customers can simply use the Qless platform, browse available appointment times, and select the one that works for them. It is the height of convenience and dramatically impacts their appointment booking experience.

Beyond the ease of booking appointments, there is now room for more customization. Patients can book appointments with certain doctors, provide notes on their condition, and even complete necessary forms. This means that all customers have to do is show up. With the typical basic online portal many doctor’s offices offer, it is significantly more difficult for customers to have a customized appointment scheduling experience. With Qless, it is seamless, available around the clock, and easy to use.

Booking an appointment is the first part of the patient journey. This should be a seamless, simple experience that is accessible as possible. With Qless, this aspect of the customer experience is painless, fast, and customizable.

 

Intro to Queue Management

While scheduling appointments by phone can be a hassle and cause customers to look elsewhere, the biggest problem most patients have with the average medical office is the wait. There is nothing that puts the average customer in a worse mood than an extended wait with unknown time limits in a room full of people that are likely sick and potentially contagious. Whether it is a doctor’s appointment, an Emergency Room, or a clinic, wait times are a serious industry problem that contributes to negative customer perceptions.

Combatting wait times has been difficult in the past without the right technology, but with Qless and other queue management software, the customer waiting experience is completely changed. Qless is used everywhere, from walk-in clinics to hospitals, as a way to change how customers wait in line.

A patient queue management system allows for virtual waiting. Rather than having a waiting room filled with potentially contagious customers sitting side-by-side, Qless allows patients to sign in to the waiting room and wait until their appointment. Patients can see how long it will be until their appointment is ready, know the wait times, fill in forms, and wait from wherever they please.

The reduced need for in-person waiting will likely lead to increased patient volume. Waiting in a medical center is an exasperating experience, and if your business can remove that, customers will take note.

The Qless system helps manage your waiting room for you, easing the burden on staff. Waiting room management software shows staff who is in line, what kind of appointment they are waiting for, and what forms they have filled out. This takes away a lot of the responsibility from staff and allows them to focus on providing the best care possible to customers.

 

How Queue Management Transforms Waiting Rooms

Overcrowded waiting rooms aren’t just exasperating for customers. They can be genuinely unsafe. Particularly when a highly transmittable airborne virus is still present, having a waiting room that removes congestion is critical. Removing the wait from your waiting room will make it a safer place for customers and staff and give your patients much more freedom throughout the appointment process.

Rather than wait for their appointment in a waiting room filled with other people, with Qless, your patient can check into line, see the wait time, and wait from wherever they please. Sitting in a nearby café with a delicious coffee and a good book certainly makes for a more pleasant waiting experience than an overcrowded waiting room.

Taking a different approach to queue management will make you stand out to your customers. Virtual waiting gives customers autonomy while still allowing businesses to maintain the speed and intake capacity they need to be profitable. Imagine a healthcare experience without any real wait, where customers can time their visit according to the wait time and simply walk in when their appointment is ready to commence? This level of customer convenience is now possible.

There are an array of ways customers can join virtual queues. They can send a text message, use a mobile app, join the website, or even use an onsite kiosk. Qless’ machine learning algorithm draws up a highly accurate portrait of wait times and gives customers the means to plan with precision around their appointment.

The waiting room experience is something most patients are deeply unhappy with. It is part of the nature of medical appointments that there will be waits, as they are unavoidable. However, with the Qless queue management system, these waits can all be done virtually. This provides customers with more autonomy over their patient care journey.

 

Better Analytics for a Streamlined Medical Center

Information is an asset in every business. Understanding as much as possible about your operation will allow you to improve areas of weakness and better understand your business. Keeping track of your waiting times and appointment lengths has been mostly impossible for businesses in the healthcare industry. With the Qless appointment management system and waitlist software, businesses can now receive highly-accurate, insightful business intelligence into key processes.

Business intelligence is highly beneficial to a business’ decision-making process. According to Data Prot, businesses using business intelligence are five times more likely to reach faster decisions than those that do not. Having accurate data that offers insights into your medical care services will allow you to streamline your processes for a better customer experience.

Qless provides comprehensive business intelligence to inform you on customer engagement and business workflows. You can see things such as your median wait time, median transaction time, appointment no-show percentage, forecasted waiting time, and much more. The data is neatly displayed to be more easily understandable.

You can also sort the data according to different filters. For example, you could see your median wait time on Fridays or your median transaction time from 2 pm-5 pm. You can also organize according to employees. You can see how long appointments with certain employees are taking or which kinds of appointments have the most bottlenecks.

This type of data presents a clear and unbiased insight into how your business performs in several key areas. Information like this is invaluable in shaping the decision-making of your medical center. If there are specific areas where your healthcare office is consistently coming up short, you can learn from them and implement changes.

If wait times are particularly dramatic on certain days or no-shows are increasing, make the necessary tweaks, and your office will benefit. It will also improve the customer experience. Having key areas where your office might be letting down patients illuminated will help you streamline your operation to provide customers a higher-quality experience.

 

Opening Lines of Communication

Something that is sorely lacking in the patient experience is strong communication. Patients will show up for their appointments or walk-ins, complete their check-in forms, and find themselves waiting for an unknown period. Front desk staff typically aren’t certain when patients will be seated, and the wait stretches on. This immediately puts patients at odds with the medical office. Communication and transparency are vital parts of a good patient experience.

Qless opens up communication with bi-directional features that allow customers and staff to communicate back and forth. This is a simple tweak that can have a major impact. Patients want to feel heard, they want clarity on their waits, and they want to feel like staff is accessible. A more communicative process is a better one.

There are several different ways Qless’ communication features can be utilized. Patients can message staff if they are running late for their appointment or have had a material change in their condition. There are also wait time features that show patients the expected amount of time they’ll be in line with a high degree of accuracy.

For staff, these features go a long way. Employees can send out mass messages and filter who the recipients are. Staff can send updates to an entire line at once without copying and pasting a message. They can even update people with appointments scheduled on certain days. This means they can send appointment reminders, request important information, and have the patients ready to be looked at by the time they come in.

More open communication benefits everyone. Medical centers will have fewer no-shows, receive higher-quality patient information, and have a more orderly pre-appointment process. Patients will have a clearer concept of when they will be seen and easier access to the staff at the medical office. Clear communication is a pivotal component of a good customer experience, and with the Qless patient appointment software, communication is made easy.

 

Conclusion

Providing patients with a positive experience should be a core focus for medical offices of all kinds. From walk-in clinics and doctor’s offices to urgent care facilities, putting your customer first will always benefit you. The healthcare industry is not particularly known for offering a strong customer experience. Long wait times and a lack of transparency are the norms. This is the byproduct of an industry where change is constant.

However, this doesn’t have to be the case. With the Qless patient queue management system and appointment scheduling software, healthcare offices can undergo a dramatic digital transformation that provides a more seamless and transparent patient experience. Medical offices across the country are pivoting to this technological innovation that benefits both staff and patients.

Qless transforms the patient experience in several critical ways. The patient appointment software drastically simplifies the appointment process. Patients can book appointments anytime from their phone, customize their appointment, and communicate key information to staff. With the queue management software, patients can wait in virtual queues rather than congested waiting rooms, monitor the estimated wait time, and remotely check in.

The business intelligence and communication features benefit all parties. With better communication, there is more transparency and clarity for customers and more information for staff. This reduces no-shows and in-office confusion. The business intelligence features provide high-quality information to staff that allows them to spot inefficiencies in their operation and improve them for a more seamless customer experience.

Medical providers face a tall task of providing great patient experiences. It is a difficult industry where customers are often under duress, and wait times are a natural part of the process. But with Qless, medical providers can provide a drastically improved experience by removing the need for in-person waits, easing appointment scheduling, and simplifying communication. It is a platform transforming the patient experience.

To see for yourself the value Qless provides, Schedule a Demo Today.