In today’s connected world, potential customers have a myriad of ways to research your business. Reviews on Yelp, Google, and other websites detailing patient experiences help inform their decisions about which healthcare practitioner to choose for their hearing care needs.
Defining that experience can involve the same principles that most people use to judge a business and tends to fall within the parameters of three areas:
- Function of the practice. How the patient’s needs were met, professionalism of services, and thoroughness of evaluation.
- Environment. The warmth and friendliness of staff as well as the welcoming nature of exam and waiting rooms can signal to a patient how comfortable they will feel in your care.
- Affordability. With hearing care excluded from many insurance plans, what alternative financing options are you offering your clients to pay for their hearing care plan? Ally Lending offers the option of easy monthly payments that can be budgeted in with other expenses.
So, how can you ensure that the patient experience is good enough to turn a new patient into a loyal, long-term customer? This article will detail a few changes that, if implemented, can help the patient experience become a memorable one.
Visiting a healthcare office can be an apprehensive experience, both because of the uncertainty surrounding the encounter and fear of what the outcome may be. Attempting to allay your patient’s concerns by creating a relaxing and engaging environment can help contribute to a better state of mind and positive outcome. According to Michele Ahlman, founder and CEO of ClearDigital Media, the waiting room acts as an “emotional trigger” for patients and can be highly influential in their decision whether or not to return to your practice. She recommends a video stream that can be customized to a particular patient demographic, helping forge an emotional connection between your client and their hearing care.
Additionally, making sure your front office staff are engaged and informed on the services you offer will help make them a valuable resource to clients seeking answers or reassurance.
There are many reasons patients balk at the thought of hearing aids, but they tend to be motivated by four different things:
- Fear/Stigma. The idea that hearing aids can carry a stigma of the user being viewed as “old” or “doddering” and can be seen as a visible representation of dwindling health. They may erroneously think that wearing a hearing aid signifies the beginning of a series of health problems indicating their advancing age.
- Benefit. A true understanding of the long-term effects of hearing loss—which have been linked to cognitive decline, dementia, and cardiovascular problems, among other comorbidities—may not be immediately apparent to your patient. Additionally, they may not be able to conceptualize other long-standing effects of diminished hearing on the quality of their lives, such as the lessening ability to participate in normal social interactions with friends and family. For that reason, it is extremely useful, if not essential, to encourage the attendance of a spouse or significant other at the initial consultation. Convincing patients of the potential negative effects of hearing loss (and the benefits of hearing aids) present clinicians with an enormous challenge.
- Pre-existing Beliefs. As hearing aid novices, patients may be unaware of the technological innovation that hearing devices have gone through in the digital age. Instead, they may have an outdated view of an oversized and awkward device that can be obtained more cheaply and conveniently online or from Costco versus the benefits of making that purchase through the office of a hearing care professional.
- Misinformation. Educating your client about how critical hearing health is to overall health, the difference between over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids and those dispensed by an audiologist, as well as a breakdown of cost for each, is essential. And, perhaps most importantly, educating patients on ways to pay for a treatment plan, such as personalized financing options from Ally Lending, helps alleviate the burden of a large, one-time payment, is critical to ensuring their acceptance.
Despite the objections you may encounter from a potential client, improving the patient experience is sure to pay dividends in the future of your business.