The goal of every business is repeat business. Without it, there rarely is a business in the long-term. In the same way, the goal of every patient is to find a reliable expert to help them for the longevity of their care. This is not unique to the O&P profession. Every part of a service industry, sales industry, or even the large world of technology focuses on customer retention. There are multiple ways that businesses can gain repeat business. The “reliable” portion is where the quickest needs can be addressed.
Communication throughout a process leads to a sense of reliability. Even when things are not going according to plan, if there is communication, then there is leeway. A patient that calls to reschedule an appointment two days before they are due is not considered unreliable. A patient that simply does not show up is thought of differently. The same can be applied to a business, whose goal is to not fall into the second category.
The difference between the two is communication. A business that keeps the patient informed throughout the process can afford to miss something occasionally. A practitioner that makes sure the patient knows why processes are in place and how the jointly established goals are going to be reached is already on the same team as the patient. However, the communication must be empathetic and realistic.
Giving a patient the timeline for their progress, the hurdles which may be encountered, and the adjustments that may have to be made midway will allow for the partnership between the parties to be successful. This should include behind-the-scenes operations such as authorizations, acquiring physician’s notes, and SWOs. If your team is struggling with obtaining the necessary documentation to move forward, why not involve the patient? Your referral sources and insurance companies are more likely to respond to one of their customers than to you. This should be taken advantage of for the business’ and the patient’s benefit.
There should also be clear communication both when things are on track and when they are starting to deviate. Practitioners, front office staff, billers, and technicians should all be on the same page when it comes to communication. From the basics of positively greeting patients because you are happy they chose your services to, concurrently, responding quickly with an answer when there is information to be shared with them. Do not allow your business to be spoken of negatively because no one responded to a voicemail.
According to HIPAA Journal, effective communication will:
- Improve quality of care and patient outcomes
- Enhance the patient experience
- Improve patient satisfaction scores
- Reduce the cost of healthcare
- Reduce stress for clinicians and prevent burnout
The main thrust of a business is, to use a baseball analogy, take the walk instead of the strikeout. Do the easy things that allow for growth so, when mistakes are inevitably made, there is a cushion of goodwill to fall back on. There are many examples of successful businesses that had a stumble. Your job is to make sure that your patients want to help you back up instead of wondering why it took so long for you to fall.
Written for SPS Xpress
About the Author: Jessica Norrell, CPO, MBA, is the owner of MOZN Solutions. With more than 19 years of healthcare experience, Jessica is passionate about helping practices thrive with strategic business solutions. To learn more, visit moznsolutions.com.