What makes a fantastic physical therapy practice? Understanding patient journey mapping might not seem like the obvious first choice. Yet, a 2011 review shows that patient satisfaction has a direct link to great customer service. It goes without saying that therapy is people-oriented. If you can’t please your clients during their patient journey, you won’t keep your customer base. Increasing customer satisfaction throughout the patient journey is easy. Learning patient journey mapping can help you get there. With patient journey mapping you can ensure patient satisfaction.
What is patient journey mapping?
The patient journey is the entirety of the patient’s experience. Patient journey mapping encompasses the various interactions between your practice and the patient. Patient journey mapping predicts potential problems throughout the process of patient care. You want to cut these problems as they create barriers for your patient. With this knowledge, you can ensure patient satisfaction. Some benefits include higher customer retention, more referrals, and an increase in revenue. You can use patient journey mapping to ensure an excellent patient experience.
How can you map the patient journey?
Think of patient journey mapping as the GPS of your practice. To map the patient’s journey, you must understand your typical patient. Create a basic patient profile. Consider your typical patient’s background, demographics, and identifiers. This will be a ‘sample’ patient that will serve as a guide for your customer base and patient journey mapping. This profile should include average age, occupation, financial situation, and other relevant information. This will give you more insight into your patients day to day barriers. For example, a young adult will have different barriers compared to an elderly client. As you can see, a one-size solution doesn’t fit all. Besides, you can create many patient profiles to map various patient journeys. Understanding your average client will allow you to deliver a better patient experience.
Now we have a patient profile. Let’s divide our patient journey mapping into three parts: pre-visit, visit, and post-visit.
Patient Journey Mapping: The Pre-Visit
Imagine your typical patient before they reach your practice. Most likely, they’ll visit their primary care physician first. This is the beginning of their journey to you. You need to make your practice easy to find and convince patients that they’re your ideal client. Identify and remove barriers before their visit.
Raise Awareness of Your Practice
First, consider how the average patient knows to seek out physical therapy. Most likely, they receive a referral from their physician. Yet, physical therapy referrals dropped between 2003 – 2014. Physicians don’t always recognize when physical therapy is necessary. It’s up to you to form close, beneficial relationships with referring physicians. This way, they know when to send their patients your way. Make time for in-person visits to form a relationship. Collaborate with referring physicians on patient care, treating it as a shared success. If your practice has a newsletter, include them so they can gain the necessary insight into the field. A close relationship ensures that all viable clients come your way.
Can your potential patients find you? With some form of direct access available in all 50 states, it is more important than ever to think about your marketing methods. Some patients do their own research so your practice should be easy for them to find. Yet, 90% of patients who need physical therapy never receive it. It’s up to you to spread awareness of your practice and to target the type of patients you accept. Managing a social media account is perfect for this purpose. This is where your patient profile comes in. Which type of social media is your client base more likely to use? Do you specialize in sports and athlete rehab? Users under 30 are more likely to use Instagram or TikTok. Facebook might be a better option among those 65 and older. The right platform can help you reach the majority of your potential client pool.
Consideration of Your Practice Should Be a No Brainer
So the patient has found your practice. Why should that potential patient choose you? Your patients should feel that they’re your ideal client. Consider benefits your practice offers that are absent at other practices. For example, patients are more receptive than ever to technology. They expect clinics and practices to use new software. They especially want fast, easy ways to book appointments. One study found that 97% of patients expect the ability to schedule their own appointments online. Additionally, 90% of patients no longer feel obligated to stay with healthcare providers that don’t deliver a satisfactory digital experience. Online scheduling attracts more customers and keeps them.
In your patient journey mapping, consider how patients find information about your practice. Make your website as informative as possible. On your website, include as much information as possible for potential clients. Include specific services you provide, accepted insurance, and how to contact your practice. Add an inquiry form so patients don’t call your front office staff for questioning. Instead, your staff can answer questions via email or call the patient at a convenient time for both.
Increase Engagement By Removing Barriers
Increase engagement with your patient by removing barriers. Preparing, printing at home, and completing intake forms can become a barrier to your practice. Modern and high-performing offices use digital patient forms with a patient management system. Consider saving your staff and your patient’s time with automated patient intake. Patients can prepare for their visit by completing patient forms online. Patients can have a stress-free and relaxed first appointment. Additionally, it saves your office staff time and reduces errors.
Patient management systems can send automatic reminders to patients about their appointments. By sending reminders a few days before or the day of the appointment, patients are more likely to show up. This can save your practice time and money. Consider using reminder software that allows for two-way texting. Your patient can respond to reminders or messages in an instant. This facilitates easy communication between the two of you. This easy bi-directional communication will ensure most patient engagement. A patient management system can remove the confusion of check-in. Also, mobile technology can send your patients a link to check-in. They can do it from the comfort of their phones before they walk into the appointment.
Do your patients have trouble getting to the clinic? Consider implementing a system where you can arrange a senior shuttle. Medicaid provides transportation help to the elderly or disabled. Or consider Telehealth appointments when possible. You can prescribe exercises and design a plan with the patient online. This way, nothing can prevent a patient from seeing you.
Patient journey mapping can remove barriers and give your patients options. This shows patients your practice cares about their convenience. If you make it easy for them, why would they not choose you?
Patient Journey Mapping During The Visit
So far in your patient journey mapping, you’ve made it as easy as possible for patients to find you and enlist your help. Now how can you ensure patient satisfaction during the visit? Patients want to feel heard and receive great treatment that will yield results. Use your patient journey mapping to investigate problems patients encounter during your care.
Patients complain that healthcare professionals don’t listen. To ensure a great healthcare encounter, you must give enough time for communication. Needless to say, don’t dominate the conversation. It’s your job to make sure your patient feels heard.
Shared Decision Making Model
Patients will adhere to a patient care plan if they feel like they’ve had a part in the decision-making. Shared decision-making is a collaborative approach. The clinician integrates their patient’s values and preferences in their treatment. It’s proven to improve patient outcomes but it’s underutilized.
Patient Journey Mapping: Post-Visit
Patient journey mapping doesn’t end when the patient walks out of the doctor’s office. There’s a multitude of barriers that can arise after the initial meeting. Since physical therapy requires many visits, remove these barriers so clients return.
Schedule the Next Appointment
So you got your patient at your practice but how do you make it easy for them to return? Before your patient leaves, schedule the next few appointments. Proactive scheduling is useful. It removes the work and stress of your patient and front office workers trying to reach one another. Additionally, it keeps patients accountable for their treatment and schedule. This reduces no-shows and cancellations.
Loyalty Programs and Referrals
A loyalty program may seem more suitable for retail or grocery stores. But they’re becoming more common in health care. You should reward your patients for choosing your practice. Offer a free service or bonus such as a therapy session or virtual workshop as an incentive. You may want to reward more than longevity. Meeting therapy goals, completing exercise programs, or referring a friend are excellent milestones. The first place a person looks for a new doctor is not on the internet but with friends or family. Rewarding referrals can incentivize patients to dole them out.
Patient Feedback Survey
A patient feedback survey is a fantastic way to gain insight into the patient journey. They can cover anything you miss. You can have patients fill out paper forms or a digital form at the conclusion of each visit. Make sure to ask less than 10 questions and focus on key areas of interest such as treatment, staff, and facility. Install a rating system from 1-5 and an optional write-in part for more details. You can receive feedback on points of the patient journey you may have missed. Additionally, providing patient feedback surveys communicates to patients that your practice takes accountability.
Email Follow Up
Send your patient an email summarizing their appointment and plan of care. This reinforces treatment and keeps your patients informed. You should thank patients for trusting your practice. You can include home exercise reminders/educational material. This is a great opportunity to include the aforementioned patient feedback survey! Follow-up emails show your practice cares and takes an active role in their recovery.
As you can see, there’s more to running a therapy practice than providing excellent care. A multitude of problems can create a barrier between your patients and your practice. Patient journey mapping is an effective method. It helps you understand the patient experience and remove these barriers. Use patient journey mapping and see your patient satisfaction rise.