How To Improve The Patient Experience In The Waiting Room With This $30-Billion Company’s Strategy
Posted by Shelley Thomson -
I recently heard an interesting strategy from Airbnb, the $30 billion accommodation network. It’s called the 7-star design principal, and it can help you to improve the patient experience.
It works something like this:
Put yourself in the patient’s shoes. And then ask, if my practice offered a 5-star experience, what would it look like? Next, consider what a 6-star experience would be like, then a 7-star and so on.
Here is how the exercise plays out for someone arriving at an Airbnb as described by co-founder, Brian Chesky.
- 5 Stars: Knock on the door. They let you in. Standard.
- 6 Stars: Knock on the door. The host welcomes you. There is a bottle of wine on the table, fresh water, and toiletries.
- 7 Stars: Knock on the door. The host has stocked the kitchen for your stay. They also booked you a surfboard and lessons because they know it’s your hobby.
- 8 Stars: You land at the airport. There’s a limo waiting. On your way to the rental, you can eat your favourite snacks and drink the free champagne.
It might sound simplistic. But first impressions count. And if you want to improve the patient experience in the waiting room, this process can turn a one-time drop-in into a lifelong patient.
The waiting room is one of the first chances to make a great impression on your patients. It’s your opportunity to immediately stand out from your competition, cement a quality reputation and improve the patient experience.
Yet, many people say that the waiting room is the worst part of the healthcare system.
Take my friend Amy’s story, for example. Amy had called into a super clinic near her home for an appointment. She had expected a quick in-and-out visit. But the clinic was hectic that evening. And the flustered reception staff told her to settle in for at least a 45-minutes stay.
Amy took her seat and grabbed one of the grubby magazines.
Two hours later, her patience was running out. She sat frustrated on a hard, uncomfortable chair. She glanced at her watch again for the umpteenth time. Then she called her husband to say she would miss dinner. She was hungry, tired and angry.
But the wait wasn’t even the worst part.
It was the uncertainty and lack of information that really pushed her buttons. The staff hadn’t offered any updates since she first arrived. She had no idea how much longer she would have to wait. And she couldn’t leave because she would lose her place in line.
Amy hasn’t been back to that clinic since. There’s a good chance she’ll never return. That’s a one-star or two-star experience if I ever heard one.
The good news is that by following the Airbnb strategy, a practice can avoid a situation like this. You can build trust, create a friendly atmosphere, and use the waiting room to position your practice as a premium healthcare provider.
- For instance, a 5-star practice would have comfortable chairs for Amy to sit on and quiet area. If there was a delay for some unforeseeable reason, the staff would have kept her informed, maybe even offered a different appointment time, so she could go home and have dinner.
- For a 6-star experience, the receptionist would have looked up, smiled and made eye-contact when Amy arrived. They would have treated her as a VIP. There would have been no wait time. Everything would feel easy and fast.
- A 7-star experience? I’ll let you think about that one. But keep in mind what a famous author once said: “The deepest human desire is the need to feel important.”
If you can make someone feel special, they will become a loyal advocate for your practice. Plus, they will tell their friends and family about you, too.
Focus on what makes the patient feel appreciated and respected. Offer at least a 7-star experience. You’ll be amazed at the wonderful comments and feedback you get from patients and their families.
For more tips on how to improve the patient experience, check out my book, Patient For Life by clicking here: http://patientsforlifebook.com.au/