How Patient Demand is Changing — And How You Can Keep Up

by Katie Sawyer, 3 minutes read
HOME blog how patient demand is changing and how you can keep up

According to a new survey of more than 2,000 American consumers, patients are changing the game for healthcare.

In the past three years, consumers have visited a health care clinic an average of 5.4 times. Those in the West visited a clinic 6.7 times in this time frame, more than any other region in the country.

So what’s driving their visits — and how can you keep them coming back to your clinic? Read on to learn how patient demand is changing and how you can keep up.

Higher expectations

People are setting higher standards for the service they receive, resulting in a greater ask of you and your staff. Research shows nearly seven in 10 Americans now have higher customer service expectations if they were to use a health clinic than before.

This was especially true for millennials, nearly half of which “strongly agree” their customer service expectations for health care clinics have gotten bigger.

Nothing shapes patient experience quite like quality care, which was ranked as “very important” by nearly seven in 10 respondents.

In fact, more than two-thirds of consumers (68%) said friendly staff is among their top expectations, more than social distancing protocols (64%), a short wait time (63%), masked staff (61%) and quick responses (55%).

  • Keep your staff engaged. Your staff are undoubtedly overworked, and may not feel their monetary and verbal recognition matches the amount of effort they’re putting in. Not surprisingly, burnout was the biggest pain point brought to employers’ attention (50%). Your patients expect quality care — and quality customer service — and that starts with your staff.

  • Always focus on the patient’s needs. Take a cue from Dan Latham, CEO of Pulse Medical Staffing. “It’s important to me that we fulfill the needs for both my field employees and my clients,” says Dan. As a per diem medical staffing agency, Pulse Medical Staffing takes a “fast and furious” approach to quickly offering open shifts and filling them with the right people at the right time. Having qualified staff at the right place at the right team is key to ensuring the patients’ needs are met.

  • Shrink wait time. Consumers polled in this survey have said both quality of service and speed would affect their decision to return to a clinic. Invest in tools that will streamline your internal communications to make sure staff aren’t overwhelmed, and patients get the time and personalized care they deserve.

A push for diversity

And a similar amount revealed they’d feel intimidated to use a health care clinic if there were a lack of diversity.

Having diverse employees increases your practice’s bottom line and also assists in making your patients feel more welcome. Practices that have a clear diversity and inclusion policy (and are seen to enforce this policy) benefit from happier and more productive staff and a great reputation.

Not sure where to start? Here are a few tips to get you started.

  • Enable access to multiple languages. Your patients come from different backgrounds, and not everyone might speak English as their first language. Use translators to help interact with your patients who need assistance and provide versions of your written materials in multiple languages.

  • Connect DE&I to your mission. As healthcare workers, you or your staff took an oath to do no harm. It’s easy for diversity, equity, and inclusion to become meaningless buzzwords. People will get sick of hearing them if your talk isn’t backed up by action. One of the most important things your practice can do is integrate DE&I into your mission and values. Find your "why" and what these terms mean to you in your business.

  • Be conscious of identity. Gender isn’t binary. You will have staff that don’t use either "he" or "she" when referring to themselves. And your language, systems, and documents need to reflect that variety.

Keep your patients coming back

The pandemic has not only taken a toll on the healthcare industry but also magnified the areas that need improvement. Clinics are looking at the needs of both patients and staff, which are often connected.

Patient loyalty is the secret to a lasting practice. As with restaurants and consumer brands, repeat customers will help your business thrive beyond the pandemic.

To learn more about how to ensure long-lasting patient satisfaction, download 3 Secrets to Improving Patient Satisfaction.

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