Improve Your Medical Practice Operations: Understanding What Kills Efficiency
Efficiency is essential in every industry, but it is all the more important in the health care services industry because people’s wellness is on the line. The more patients clinical practices can offer services to effectively, the more people they are helping, and the more money they make. But there are a lot of roadblocks to efficiency that healthcare organizations face.
The complexity of health care is an inherent roadblock, but this isn’t something that can change. Certain structural issues with how customers are served have led to medical centers being some of the most poorly performing businesses in terms of customer service and speed. According to Fierce Healthcare, the average wait time for a doctor in America is more than 18 minutes. Emergency rooms are even worse, with the average wait time being more than 40 minutes, according to The Washington Post.
The healthcare industry is suffering from inefficiency, which detracts from patient outcomes. Medical practices have to consider what is causing these problems to understand how to fix them. Several core issues are repeatedly considered the industry’s biggest bottlenecks and customer complaints.
Below, we’ll break down what these core problems are and discuss how queue management software and an improved appointment management system like QLess can transform the performance of a medical practice.
Communication Failures and Impersonal Experiences
A significant part of customers’ dissatisfaction with their healthcare providers comes from a lack of communication and an impersonal process. According to Silverline CRM, 82% of customers said quality customer service is the most important factor they consider when choosing care, with 62% saying communication and continuous engagement was the biggest aspect of this. Health care leaders find ways to meet the unique communication demands of their customers.
A significant aspect of great patient care is excellent customer service, and communication and personalization are integral parts of customer service. It is common in the healthcare industry for patients to wait, barely talk to doctors or nurses, and then leave. It doesn’t feel personal or communicative.
QLess offers bi-directional communication features that lead to a more open and responsive patient experience. Patients can message the staff, receive updates on their appointments, and provide information on their health status. It can be difficult for health care providers to maintain communication with each of their individual patients, but they must do so. QLess enables easy communication, with health care organizations able to send individual messages back and forth to customers or message large groups at a time.
What your customers think of your business is incredibly important. According to Software Advice, 94% of healthcare patients use online reviews to evaluate providers. If you use healthcare appointment scheduling software with communication features, you can ensure you are providing a more open and personalized experience for your patients.
An Unpleasant Waiting Process
The wait times in the medical industry can be a serious drag. While the medical industry performs an essential function, they often do it at a rate below customer expectations. What compounds the issue is that not only are the waits long, they are in crowded waiting rooms where many of the people in them have a medical condition. It is both a long, unpleasant experience and a legitimate health hazard.
According to a report by Software Advice, 43% of patients begin to feel frustrated during waiting room waits of 20 minutes or less. Patient responses to these waits will differ, but they will generally be negative. What helps is cutting the wait time and making the wait experience less difficult.
With a waiting line management system, medical providers can achieve faster waits and more pleasant patient experiences without sacrificing their quality of care. QLess has been recorded to reduce wait times by 97%, and it makes the waits a less arduous experience.
How a patient queue management system like QLess works is that patients can check into the line remotely. They can join the line through a mobile waitlist app or desktop version and receive accurate updates on how long it will take until their turn in line is up. They can simply monitor the line from wherever they are and coordinate their arrival time when their appointment is set to begin.
Many medical businesses have a poor performance in customer service because the wait time is long and unpleasant. With a virtual queue software solution, medical offices gain a tool that reduces wait times and empowers customers to wait from wherever they are. This reduces physical congestion in offices and makes the wait a more pleasant experience.
Disorganized Patient Flow
There are many waiting rooms at clinics and primary care practices where the patient flow feels incredibly chaotic. Customers arrive late to appointments or don’t show up at all; there are walk-ins and scheduled appointments colliding, and juggling it all can feel impossible. With high health care costs, this type of disorganization and confusion is unacceptable to the average customer.
Healthcare organizations must take the necessary steps to improve their flexibility and flow management. This improves the patient experience and leads to better business outcomes. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, patient no-show rates range from 12-80%, depending on the healthcare business. While the actual cost impact of this is unknown, it is suspected to lead to billions in lost potential earnings.
When offices block off certain hours per day for appointments that don’t come, they are losing revenue and throwing their calendar into flux. That is why customer flow management software can be a differentiator. Fixing patient flow is one of the quality improvement methods that helps both customers and businesses.
With a virtual queuing system and flexible calendar management software, offices can handle anything their schedule throws at them. They can create customized, automated virtual lineups that blend with walk-ins to provide an easy solution for juggling customers. They can send appointment reminders and updates through bi-directional communication features and reduce no-shows. They can arrange lines according to pre-set rules, move customer appointments up or back, and overall have a more flexible and organized flow to their business.
Disorganized patient flow leads to unhappy patients and a reduced capacity to handle change. A queue management software with customer flow features helps offices provide more organized and seamless care for patients.
A Lack of Data Offering Customer Insights
Data is a fundamentally important thing for businesses of every kind. Good data is unbiased, objective information that reveals essential truths about companies they may have overlooked. Data collection is considered one of the top challenges to overcome in the medical industry. Many medical practices simply don’t bother collecting data on customer flow and appointment no-shows because of how difficult it is. This is a mistake.
Many businesses across industries have pivoted their focus to the importance of data collection. According to a Deloitte survey, 49% of companies believe the primary benefit of data helps them make better decisions, while 10% believe it empowers stronger relationships with customers. Medical offices should be hoping to improve these two crucial things, but good data requires the right tool.
QLess offers business intelligence features that can help clinical practices in several key ways. QLess provides analytics on several key topics ranging from median wait time and appointment no-show percentage to transaction time and the number of customers served. Because customers are using QLess for their virtual queue, the app automatically tracks the data of how long they were in the line, what time of day it was, and what they were in line for.
This provides medical centers with crucial information. If they see their no-show percentage hitting unacceptable levels, they can make that an action item and implement changes to ensure patients make appointments. If they see customers waiting longer during specific times or for specific appointments, they can shift their strategy to smooth out their processes at that time.
Sometimes, your business doesn’t live up to the customer service expectations of individual patients. This is inevitable in every industry. However, learning more about the overarching problems that should be significant points of concern will help medical offices implement strategic changes to solve them.
QLess’ business intelligence features give offices crucial information that should guide their quality improvement projects. Understanding the key areas medical offices may be letting down their patients is the first step to solving these problems.
Working in the medical industry can be difficult. There is typically a significant amount of inefficiency due to how stretched thin all the workers in the industry are, whether it is the doctors and nurses or front desk staff. They are handling patients in varying conditions, many of whom are dealing with sickness or injury of significant severity. Naturally, this creates an environment where staff finds themselves overwhelmed.
Because of the long wait times endemic to the healthcare industry, many customers end up frustrated and irate. For staff, this means their contact with customers can become contentious or unpleasant. This only adds to the significant burden that the average worker in the industry is dealing with. This has been doubly true during the pandemic when the healthcare system was overwhelmed. Medical practice staff certainly have a lot on their plate.
Staff in the healthcare industry have made the employment decision to work towards helping people, and they deserve a straightforward work environment without all the complications. Investing in solutions that will improve the lives of your staff is investing in your business’ livelihood. According to research from the University of Oxford, happy workers are 13% more productive than less happy workers.
A patient journey application like QLess is designed to make the job of staff significantly easier. Arguably the most difficult business aspect for medical industry workers is the consistent disorganization, particularly at the busiest times of the day. When the office or health center is overwhelmed with customers, things can become agitating and confusing.
By organizing and structuring both the virtual queue and the appointment scheduling process, QLess helps to automate one of the more draining parts of most workers’ days. QLess can be automated or managed, depending on the medical practice’s preferences, but either way, it helps create a more consistent, organized workflow.
QLess organizes staffs schedule for them and can quickly adjust to changes like late patients or appointment no-shows. This streamlines the day-to-day work and frees up time for employees to focus on the more important aspects of their job. That is one of the reasons QLess has been shown to boost staff productivity by up to 90%.
Difficulty Accessing Appointments
When patients are looking to get in touch with your business, it shouldn’t be a challenge. Accessing medical offices should not be an ordeal, but many customers find the appointment scheduling process to be a surprisingly difficult experience. Many health offices use archaic appointment systems, like phone call-only scheduling, which increases the burden on patients. This shouldn’t be the case.
If a customer is seeking assistance with their health affairs, booking an appointment should be a convenient process that can be done around the clock. Yet with a phone scheduling system, most offices limit appointment scheduling to business hours, a time when many customers are working. These systems are often very rigid and don’t give customers the ability to change or cancel appointments according to their needs.
Empowering your patients with flexible appointment scheduling software will ensure the appointment booking process isn’t a source of frustration and inefficiency. This is a surprisingly important consideration for customers. According to Accenture, 68% of patients consider the ability to book, change, and cancel appointments when picking their medical provider. Many find the experience difficult. According to a survey by Binary Fountain, 9% of respondents listed appointment scheduling as the most frustrating aspect of the healthcare experience, which was the 4th most common response.
QLess is the salve that can eliminate this issue for good. It is a medical appointment scheduling software that gives customers the tools they need to schedule appointments completely at their convenience. Customers can use the QLess platform to view available appointments and appointment types and pick the time and date that works for them. As soon as patients book, that time is then blocked off. This resource is available around the clock.
The more difficult it is for customers to schedule appointments with your office, the less likely they are to do so. Booking an appointment should be easy, fast, and accessible. The appointment scheduling features of QLess make it simple for customers to schedule, change, and cancel appointments. The communication features enable staff to message customers on the day of their appointment and ensure they show up. It is a feature that benefits all parties.
A Lack of Patient-Facing Technology
There are a lot of medical organizations that use technology to implement their health plans. This technology usually stays outside the waiting room and is used to treat patients as a part of their care cycle. While this focus on technology is important, technology shouldn’t be limited to patient care. It should be implemented in every aspect of the business that will be helpful. While concerns over implementing new technology are high, it is important medical offices take the time to do so.
Implementing a technology-driven infrastructure that your patients will get to use will accommodate the desires of the average consumer. The average person spends just under seven hours on the internet every day. 85% of people in the United States own a smartphone. Our culture is incredibly technology dependent, and that dependency doesn’t just stop in customers’ personal lives.
Consumers want technology that makes things easier and more convenient in every aspect of their lives. Businesses would be wise to meet this demand by implementing customer-facing technological solutions that solve key problems. There is a multi-step process to adding a new technology solution to a medical business. It takes time and effort. But the payoff can be significant.
The first step to adding new technology to a medical business is ensuring that the technology addresses a significant issue. QLess is addressing several. Lack of communication, difficulty scheduling appointments, and arduous waits are three serious issues. Another important step along the way is adding the necessary infrastructure. With QLess, the infrastructure is already established.
QLess is a solution that is smartphone accessible, easy to use, and effective. It is built for the modern consumer that is online for most of their waking hours and uses smartphones. It also has ADA-compliant features with on-site kiosks, so it can meet the needs of a larger variety of patients. Patients want technology that makes their experience easier, faster, and more convenient. By implementing medical office appointment scheduling software like QLess, healthcare businesses can provide that for them.
An Organizational Focus Not Centered on the Patient Experience
There is a massive focus on the customer experience across industries right now. Businesses have figured out that retaining customers is less expensive than adding new ones and that the happier customers are, the better your business will perform. However, the focus on patient experience hasn’t fully entered the healthcare industry’s mainstream.
This might be because the other aspect of the job, ensuring patients’ health and safety, is so difficult and important. But the fact is that many businesses are overlooking the patient experience, and that is not overlooked by the people who frequent medical offices. According to Avtex, 68% of patients say their healthcare providers need to improve how they interact with them.
A significant majority of patients feel that their interactions aren’t living up to expectations. To improve efficiency, it would go a long way for healthcare businesses to focus on the patient experience. The biggest roadblocks that patients complain about are wait times, scheduling difficulties, and a lack of pay clarity, and these all happen to be obstacles to an efficient business. Essentially, customers’ biggest complaint with the medical industry is inefficiency.
If medical businesses commit themselves to a patient-centered approach, they will find that their business will become more efficient in the process. Customers’ biggest problems with a business are the same problems that are stopping medical companies from achieving their best results.
QLess is the perfect solution for a medical business looking for a solution that dramatically improves the patient experience. The multi-pronged features of QLess, which range from patient appointment scheduling software to a wait-in-line app, can give customers pain-free scheduling and waiting experiences. These are the two aspects of the patient journey that precede the actual appointment.
QLess enables patients to wait for their appointment wherever they want with a highly accurate forecast of the wait time. It also provides improved accessibility with 24/7 scheduling and communication. Focusing on improving your customers’ general experience will help businesses become more efficient and productive.
Providing positive health outcomes is the most important thing medical offices can do. But they also have to do it efficiently to match customers’ expectations. Many of the health systems in place at medical practices are solid, but the customer experience tends to be lacking. Continuous quality improvement is essential to a successful medical business, and focusing on improving efficiency goes a long way.
Like every other industry, the medical industry has some flaws. One of the most common recurring flaws that are brought up in the medical industry is a lack of efficiency. While many businesses in the industry are overburdened, short-staffed, and facing a sea of customers, each with independent needs, improvements can still be made, particularly with the primary efficiency bottlenecks.
Some of the biggest roadblocks to an efficient medical practice include a lack of communication with patients, long and arduous wait times, and a lack of organization with customer flow. A virtual queue and appointment software like QLess can help with these issues. They provide medical offices with a flexible tool providing bi-directional communication, customer flow management software, and a virtual queuing solution that cuts wait times dramatically.
Patients deserve medical practices that put them first. By keying in on the patient experience with the QLess software, offices and clinics can become more efficient and patient-centric.