I recently decided to take up ping pong. Solutionreach provides ping pong tables for employees to use during breaks, so a friend and I decided to give it a try. My skills left quite a bit to be desired. Of course, my friend Rachel wasn’t any better, so I wasn’t too concerned. As the weeks went on, however, I began to fall dismally behind in the win/loss column. After losing six matches in a row, I finally decided that I needed help.
I reached out to some more experienced players here at Solutionreach. I made adjustments. And I started seeing some success. As I went through this journey, it occurred to me that what I had experienced was really not that different then what we see from many practices who are working on building better relationships with their patients. Here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned in my (on-going) ping pong journey that may just help you in your patient relationships.
Be willing to try something new. I had never really played ping pong before. It was a little uncomfortable at first, but now I love it. The same is true when developing strong patient relationships. Studies show that technology is one of the best ways to reach out to patients today. Everything from telemedicine to your website, blog, social media, emails, text messaging, and so on. There are so many amazing ways you can use technology to reach patients in ways that were impossible just 10 or 20 years ago. Don't be afraid to try something that might be a little bit outside of your comfort zone.
Ask for help. I reached out to some of my team members who are amazing at ping pong (here are a couple of them here in this image!). They taught me some moves. Recommended changes to my stance. And slowly, I got better. Sometimes you will need help from others outside your practice. Whether this is through trainings and conferences or partnerships, it’s critical that you take advantage of the expertise of others. Don't be afraid to reach out for help. Talk to other practices and see what has worked (or not worked!) for them. Ask the patients themselves. Try using surveys to find out what they are feeling.
Don’t panic if things don’t change instantly. When I first implemented some of the recommended changes to my ping pong game, not much changed. But I kept at it and eventually, I got better. The same is true for you when trying to make any change at your practice. Give changes time to make an impact. Don't expect things to be perfect overnight.
Keep it simple. One of the big problems I faced was that I tried to improve by using techniques that were too difficult for me. I needed to ease into some of the changes. Similarly, you shouldn't try to change everything at once. No need to suddenly throw in posting to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter three times a day, all while blogging and writing newsletters. Pick one or two changes and after you've mastered those, add something else.
Enjoy the ride. While you're working to improve your patient relationships, don't forget to enjoy your patients. It will make everything feel worthwhile.
If you want some specific suggestions of ways you can start improving patient relationships today, we have tons of resources you can use. Feel free to check out our all of our resources here or dive into this guide, "Discover the Secret Sauce of Patient Satisfaction."