Creating a patient journey helps grow your practice by building your reputation, helping customers understand their vision solution, and reducing the stereotypical friction that comes from a medical exam.
Creating a patient journey starts the moment they are greeted by your staff. While typically this starts when they walk in your door, it may actually start when they make their appointment. The journey doesn’t end until they leave with a new vision solution they are happy with.
We’ll break down the steps of a patient journey and the factors you should consider to implement or enhance your own.
The First Interaction
Like any business, your customers (patients in this case) want great customer service. They want to feel welcome, and may even be apprehensive of their vision exam. Something to remember is that the average person isn’t familiar with vision care, they won’t understand all of the vision solutions, and might even feel uncomfortable.
The patient journey is about education and prescription. The first education opportunity is their vision plan. They likely don’t understand their full vision plan, yet will be happy anytime they can save money using it. Your front desk should explain whether or not each patient has insurance and what it covers. This is the first, important step to creating a patient journey and adding value to the relationship. Too often, asking about the patient's vision plan is seen as a chore or necessary evil. When in fact, it is a chance to show your expertise and grow revenue for the practice.
A Note on Scheduling
The ease of scheduling, receiving reminders, and rescheduling might be part of your patient journey. If it’s difficult to schedule, and if you have an incredibly restrictive reschedule policy, it sets the tone for a difficult patient journey. Consider how it feels to schedule an appointment with your practice.
A good questionnaire for your patients is the next major step of the patient journey. A questionnaire lays the foundation of information to be used during the exam. It’s important that the questionnaire isn’t only about vision, but also about lifestyle, and digital eye strain symptoms.
You can download a questionnaire to use with your patients here if you don’t already have one:
Once the patient has filled out their questionnaire, it’s time for the exam. This is broken into two steps: discovery and education. It’s important while you are performing the tests and evaluations that you are also asking the patient about their lifestyle to help determine what their primary vision needs are.
Be sure you find out how they are spending their days. What is the primary task they are performing? Often, knowing this will enable you to start making informed prescriptions as to what their primary pair of lenses should be.
It’s important to keep in mind that the more information you gather, the more accurate your prescription will be, and the more likely your patients will purchase from your practice instead of taking their prescription to a discount option.
The best way to build trust and retain patients is to educate. Once you’ve gathered information about their lifestyle, tell them why you are making the recommendations you are. For example, if they spend most of their day behind a computer screen, talk to them about how a work lens or a computer lens actually helps reduce the factors that cause eye fatigue.
Your patients won’t know the why behind each lens, or the features it offers. If you can strip away the jargon and explain the real benefits of your recommendations to them clearly, they’ll be “bought in” to their prescription.
Handing off from the exam room to the optical is where you can show off your patient journey a little bit. When handing off to an optician, give an overview of the prescription, your recommendations, and why you are making them. Do it in front of the patient as well so they can hear it reinforced. Make sure you include the relevant information, and even go back to why you are recommending what you are. If you aren’t prescribing a specific lens type, make sure you explain the features that the patient needs.
By doing an informed handoff you create a complete, seamless experience.
The Patient Journey = Customer Service
If you can make the first moment to the last educational, prescription, and authoritative, your patients will feel taken care of and understand their vision solution. For many patients, it might be the first time they understand their prescription and what they are wearing.
If you can master the patient journey, you’ll grow your practice and build a strong reputation as an advisor. This article serves as a baseline, something you can make your own, whether by customizing the questionnaire, adding extra educational tools, or adding some personal flair.
Learn more about how to build a patient journey and the tools you need to support it.