First … and Last Impressions

When we talk about improving the patient experience, certainly there are opportunities throughout a patient’s time at your practice. However, I encourage you to place special emphasis on the beginning and the end. Studies have shown that first and last impressions can hold the greatest impact on how someone evaluates satisfaction with an experience.

How do patients first encounter your practice and is it a welcoming experience?

This is more than just walking through your doors for a first appointment (although that is an important part). It also encompasses that first visit to your Web site or a first phone call to schedule an appointment. Is the experience easy, timely, intuitive, friendly and uncluttered? How does it differ from that of your competitors? If it doesn’t, what can you do to change that and make a more meaningful and memorable first impression?

What happens as a patient completes an initial visit? Does someone thank them? Have you provided a summary of what was discussed and any action items needed? Do you provide any added value through patient education or support? Do you provide a name and phone # of someone to call if questions arise later? Does your team sincerely thank patients as they leave? Even better, does each physician send a personal, handwritten note within a few days to thank each new patient for choosing your practice and placing their trust in you? If it is an older patient, someone in a wheelchair or a mom with a stroller or baby carrier, does someone walk them to the door and make sure they can get to their car OK? If it is raining, do you provide an umbrella?

First and last impressions stick. Is your practice making the right ones?