As a woman who lives with multiple chronic autoimmune conditions—essentially a professional “patient”— I spend a lot of my time managing the logistics of my healthcare. How nice it would be if doctors and medical practices considered using the progressive ideas of “design thinking” with patients and healthcare consumers in mind and in practice. Here are four examples of how this can be achieved:
Clear the clutter. The latest trend from Marie Kondo is about how to clean up your space to find joy. With that thought in mind, simplify and clean up the design of your website, patient portal links and your medical office from the waiting room, hallways and exam rooms. When was the last time you updated your space? Ideally you want your patients to feel comfortable using your website and in the waiting room. To do that you need to be welcoming. Refresh your online and offline space. Make your landing page clear, easy to use and navigate. Create a clean, warm and comfortable environment for patients once they arrive at the office. Both spaces enable you to engage and connect with your patients, use the opportunity to communicate your priorities and provide additional healthcare resources.
Patients want to be connected. Designing your medical practice with them in mind by offering them a way to connect with you. When they are out of the office, does your website provide an opportunity for your patients to “ask the Doctor” questions via email or does your office provide an e-mail health newsletter every few months? When you add a new feature to your portal, let the patients knows with a quick e-mail. While no one hopes to prolong their time in a waiting room, there may be occasions when your patients will need to “wait”. If your office provides online access to those in the waiting area it might make the waiting more tolerable. Upgrading your WiFi network to allow for guests/patients to sign in and posting a sign with the web access Information (log-in and password) will immediately improve the connectivity of your medical practice.
Provide directions and easy online navigation. Patients need to know where you are and how to get to your office. You should make it easy for new patients to fill out medical history forms online and submit information. Navigating the healthcare system is complex. Your practice can simplify the process for both established and new patients by providing simple and clear direction—whether that direction is to the office itself or to the resources and lab results on your patient portal. Some patients may be taking public transportation or ride share services. An added bonus on your location page online would be providing the closest public transit station/stop and a safe, well-lit location for ride share cars to drop off patients en route to their appointment.
Share news and information. While it is not your business to become a “news network”, you can reap the benefits of providing resources and pertinent health news with your patient community. You and your practice can proactively reach out and empower your patients and reach them where they are on their own time with online health news and perhaps start offering “Wellness Wednesday” tips. In the office and in the waiting area, you could provide pamphlets and brochures on living well while offering information on nutrition and disease prevention next to the “new” (less than three months old) magazines.
The nature of healthcare business is shifting. To improve patient services you need to be aware of the latest trends and consumer needs. By thinking--or rethinking--the design of how you engage and reach your patients you can improve the way patients receive and use the healthcare information they seek. With a little help and consideration, your practice will be the caring catalyst of change that is needed.
For more information what patients really want from YOU, check out this webinar where Amanda was joined by fellow healthcare influencers Dave deBronkhart and Barby Ingle to share their insights.