With consumerism bleeding into all industries including healthcare, consumer healthcare experience is being considered now more than ever before, as patients have more choice in how and where they receive care. Because of this, practices are now competing on elements of the patient experience beyond simply the level of care provided. So the question becomes: what is the entire consumer healthcare experience like for the individual patient?
OhMD CEO, Ethan Bechtel, recently sat down with Urooj Ansari, Vice President of Integrated Spine & Joint Institute, for “The Patient Conversation” to discuss the importance of providing stellar customer service to patients the minute they step through the door. Ansari describes how to solve for pain points in the consumer healthcare experience from top to bottom, from their comfort level in the waiting room to making sure they receive dedicated care during their visit.
The consumer healthcare experience: Learning from Disney
Ansari’s approach to customer service comes from years of experience in marketing, including time spent at Disney. At a company as consumer-driven as Disney, she learned how to listen to the consumer, to adjust approach based on feedback received from them, and ultimately, to take those insights and deliver a more positive experience that drew more people to the park according to their wants and needs. What she learned was that the Disney Animal Kingdom was missing the mark as patrons did not feel it warranted a full day’s visit. The solution to this problem? Urooj helped to build out a program where park goers could attend the attraction at night!
Urooj took this same mentality when she and her husband, Dr. Amer Ansari were building their medical practice. “You’re looking at ‘what is the consumer looking for and how do you solve for that?'” says Ansari. She applies this same approach at Integrated Spine & Joint Institute, making sure that consumer healthcare experience and customer service is top of mind in everything that they do.
Simple ways to improve the patient experience
MAKE YOUR SPACE COMFORTABLE FOR PATIENTS
The consumer healthcare experience encompasses so much more than just the quality of care received. From the way they’re greeted by the front desk to the furniture they sit on, small things play a role in how patients perceive your practice and how satisfied they are with their visit.
When they opened their practice, the Ansaris had heard the same complaints from friends and previous patients about doctors’ offices: they’re stale, unwelcoming, and the wait times are too long. The consumer healthcare experience for most people they talked to was fairly negative. They wanted to change that. “How do you take those nuggets and build upon that experience to ensure that it is a pleasant experience and something that you could potentially look forward to?” says Ansari.
They set out to create a consumer healthcare experience catered specifically to their patients. Simple, yet intentional changes, like making sure the sofas in the waiting room were comfortable, were important. “Patients are in pain, so if they’re going to be sitting on these plastics chairs, it’s going to make it worse. So from the minute they walk in to getting welcomed by our staff, we make sure that they feel cared for, that they matter.”
By customizing aspects of their practice to meet the unique needs of their patient base, the consumer healthcare experience starts on a high note even before seeing the doctor.
BUILD YOUR SCHEDULE TO REDUCE PATIENT WAIT TIMES
Part of making patients feel cared for is being considerate of their time. Ansari has observed how other consumer verticals have mastered efficiency, and believes healthcare can and should do the same.
“I have a haircut appointment, I go to my appointment and I’m seen within the first 10 minutes,” she says. “Why is it that when I go to a doctor’s office, I’m waiting for an hour or so and my whole day is gone?”
With this in mind, the practice is very intentional about how they build the appointment schedule. The doctor still books patients to see as many as he can each day, but doesn’t overbook, which would set the practice back and increase patient wait times. With a full, yet well-spaced schedule, Dr. Ansari can devote time to each patient without leaving others feeling impatient in the waiting room. This ensures the consumer healthcare experience is a positive one. “When patients are there, they’re there for dedicated care,” says Ansari, “They’re not just waiting.”
Watch the full interview with Urooj Ansari of Integrated Spine & Joint Institute on
The Patient Conversation!