Six Strategies to Upgrade your Patients’ Experience

These days, healthcare is all about the patient experience. So what does that mean for your rheumatology practice? It includes the whole experience a patient will have from start to finish, not just the time spent in the exam room with a rheumatologist. This means that the communication between staff and patients, the ease of access your patients have to your practice, and even the atmosphere of your waiting room are all part of this experience. This may seem like an overwhelming task, but there are ways we can guide a better patient journey and improve the results for our patients. Keep reading for six strategies to upgrade your patients’ experience.

Ensure you have an excellent and “patient” front desk team.

Working the front desk of a rheumatology practice isn’t easy. Dealing with patients who are missing crucial paperwork, repairing the days schedule and managing frustrated patients are daily battles. Ensure your front desk has cultivated healthy habits and useful strategies to prepare them for these situations. Ensure the patients are getting the most from their experience from the minute they walk through the door, and that includes a knowledgeable, prepared and smiling front office staff.

Create extended hours.

We live in a time of immediate gratification and 24-hour everything. To be able to compete, it may be time to extend your hours. Even if it’s just one day during the week where you stay open late, or you are open for a few hours on a Saturday morning. Your patients and their families are busy and typical hours aren’t always possible, so give them what they need to set yourself apart.

Reduce wait times.

Most patients would agree that one thing they absolutely hate is long wait times. The key to fixing this is to increase office efficiency as much as possible. With the right tools, your team should be spending less time each day on tasks like appointment reminders and other miscellaneous activities. Make the focus on your patients the number one priority and you will then make your office’s processes smoother. When all else fails, communicate with your patients so they know what to expect. Keeping patients aware of how long the wait may be will greatly reduce frustrations.

Create a comfortable waiting room.

For many patients, waiting rooms are a part of life. Adding simple and inexpensive details can make patients feel cozy and content rather than anxious and impatient. With a small investment and a bit of creativity, you can make your waiting room a pleasant and positive place for your patients.

Utilize effective reminders.

Ensure you are using effective reminders for your patients and make sure they are tailored to fit their needs. In our modern era, you should not have blanket style reminders. Ask your patients which method they prefer and then contact them that way. Little details like this can make a big difference when it comes to upgrading your patients’ experience.

Implement a patient portal.

If your website doesn’t have a patient portal, implement one immediately. Patient portals are an excellent way to share and exchange important information with patients in a safe and convenient manner. Ensure your patients have access to this little medical luxury that gives them constant contact with your practice and makes their lives easier. Ensure it is easy to navigate, give them access to payment and scheduling options and provide them with easy access to important information such as results and records.

While the general public may not always be the easiest to please, upgrading their experience at your practice isn’t rocket science. Rheumatology practices must provide the utmost care throughout each appointment experience. From appointment making and the front desk greeting, to the actual treatment and all the way to a follow up call, it is essential the patient feels valued. By finding little ways to upgrade a patients’ experience at all points in their journey with your practice, you will see improvements in satisfaction and retention.

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  • As a speaker at the first ad hoc meeting of rheumatology practice managers gathered in a single small room at its infancy a decade ago, I’m amazed to see how NORM has blossomed into a high energy organization of depth and professional meetings with parallel break-out symposia between plenary sessions. NORM has truly come of age. This is where the “business” of rheumatology gets learned. The ”guildmanship” for rheumatology practice management is now strong.- Paul H. Caldron, DO, FACP, FACR, MBA, Arizona Arthritis and Rheumatology Associates
  • In a time of demanding changes in the management of medical practices in the US, NORM has been a lifesaver to the community of Rheumatology practices.  NORM has allowed our practice to stay ahead of the many demands of CMS and others payors and has ensured that our practice remains cognizant of new issues that arise in HIPPA compliance, human resources and medical billing to name a few. Sending our Practice Manager to NORM's conferences has been cost-effective and beneficial to our practice because she returns to our office with an abundance of information that otherwise would have taken months to compile. Every Rheumatology practice that wishes to stay on top of emerging issues in practice management should consider sending a member of their staff to NORM's conference.- Michael S. Rosen M.D., Chester County Rheumatology PC
  • Thanks to all those wonderful people in the NORM Network who respond to emails, offering their advice, experience, time, and support ... I haven't even been a member a full year yet and I am amazed at the dedication of everyone who responds to helping via emails and the NORM Organization itself! I have barely had a chance to explore the resources and I have yet to really dive into requests for help still I am silently learning so much and do occasionally offer what I can! Thank you all!- Cheryl Piambino, Kenneth E. Bresky, DO

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