Setting Expectations for the Healthcare Experience Before a Visit

Ashley Worrall
by Ashley Worrall
February 13th

When it comes to the healthcare experience, most people think of what happens at the physician’s office. But the reality is much more complex. A patient’s relationship with your organization begins long before they see a doctor or even check in for their appointment.

One classic example of this happens while patients prepare for their doctor visits. Thorough, consistent communication before appointments has been linked to lower no-show rates. But as consumerism increasingly affects patient expectations of care, it’s no longer just about calling individuals the day before seeing the doctor.

For example, 72% of patients read ratings and reviews before deciding on a healthcare provider. Properly satisfying expectations at the beginning of the healthcare patient journey has become more complex. Fortunately, you can set the table long before individuals set foot inside your building. When done right, you’ll be able to make a genuinely positive impression with your patients throughout their healthcare experience, growing patient loyalty dramatically and organically.

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How to Improve Patient Experience in Healthcare at the Start

A few key strategies can help you establish direct dialogue with patients before they enter the clinic’s doors to ensure a seamless, personalized healthcare experience every time. Proactively sending messages about upcoming appointments, important facility updates, or new processes helps ease anxiety and reduce questions before the patient-provider encounter, helping align expectations early, promote satisfaction throughout the healthcare patient journey, and, ultimately, support stronger patient loyalty. What happens prior to an appointment is often overlooked by providers, but it can have a significant impact on your bottom line. Here are some effective ways you can set expectations and extend support before visits:

1. Mass marketing notifications

You’ve got important healthcare updates your patients need to see and hear. Texting is by far the best way to get the word out, with over half of patients preferring text notifications over emails or phone calls. By using modern mass marketing notifications, you can get this vital information into the hands of your surrounding communities quickly and efficiently so nothing falls through the cracks. Among the many patient experience examples from the pandemic, one prominent Los Angeles-area healthcare organization used Feedtrail’s platform to send out targeted messages to families who had received pediatric care at their facilities to let them know its clinics were re-opening with updated COVID safety protocols in place. Within the first week, the provider booked 22 appointments as a result of sending these messages.

2. Automated appointment messages

The pandemic notoriously caused millions of patients to put off appointments for elective (and even necessary) care. In fact, around 72% of elective surgeries worldwide were cancelled during one 12-week COVID peak. Now that people have returned for in-office visits, providers should leverage automated appointment reminders to support them. For example, one large, complex outpatient provider team was concerned that COVID was causing a high rate of appointment no-shows and cancellations. They used a scaled-down Feedtrail survey delivered through text message to communicate information about their COVID response and recapture those appointments by offering telehealth alternatives. The initiative was successful, saving over 5,000 appointments that would’ve otherwise never occurred.

3. Tools for understanding SDOH and improving access

People face numerous barriers when seeking and accessing care — from issues securing transportation to trouble finding an in-network provider in their area. The bad news is that many of these pain points relate to what happens outside of the doctor’s office. The good news is that modern-day solutions can help providers understand their patients’ challenges to ultimately help solve them. With Feedtrail’s help, healthcare organizations can drill down into specific, segmented patient populations to pinpoint exactly what gaps they experience when trying to get care. Providers can then leverage this data to develop resources specific to their surrounding communities, removing barriers and creating a more direct throughline to their services when the need arises and a better overall healthcare experience.

4. Pre-surgery check ins

Surgery is stressful enough. Over half of patients experience preoperative anxiety. But complex paperwork only adds fuel to the fire. That’s why Feedtrail plugs into your intake workflow and allows patients to complete check-in paperwork in advance, sending key reminders to patients to prepare them for their surgery dates. One prominent organization needed more patients to complete pre-surgery paperwork before arriving at the facility. Within a few weeks of leveraging Feedtrail, patients who completed their pre-surgery paperwork increased by 27%.

5. Virtual check-ins/Appointment confirmations

Appointment no-shows will throw both your scheduling operations and your revenue streams into chaos. Physician practices lose an approximate $150 billion a year because of them. Feedtrail prompts patients to confirm their appointments to take some of the burden off front-of-office staff and lend a helping hand to individuals so they don’t drop the ball. One organization uses Feedtrail to walk patients through the virtual check-in process and sets up a call with a staff member if the patient still has questions. This application of our platform has helped the provider confirm more than 2,100 appointments.

6. Simple telehealth login

Although telemedicine use has dipped slightly from its peak during the height of COVID, there’s no question it’s here to stay. That’s why telehealth is no longer a luxury, and every healthcare organization needs a reliable way to get patients through the virtual door. An organization uses Feedtrail to help its patients log into their telehealth portal by sending step-by-step instructions via a helpful link and allowing patients to ask questions that would be answered within 24 hours. Issues with telehealth logins decreased by 35%, and patient opinion of telehealth appointments improved by 41%.

Forward-thinking organizations understand and embrace the fact that patients form opinions — and develop trust — before they enter the doctor’s office. Facilities with the most impressive patient experience examples incorporate a strategy that prioritizes outreach early in the consumer journey.

Feedtrail’s platform gives providers comprehensive support to enhance patient engagement throughout the pre-appointment process, ensuring you can control your messaging, get more patients through your doors, and solve any problems quickly and seamlessly. Learn more about how to improve patient experience in healthcare with Feedtrail today.

The Care Necessities: A SimpleGuide to Elevating Patient Experience