I told you that I had one easy protocol you can incorporate in your practice that can save you time, enhance your relationship with patients and grow your business, you’d do it, right? Well, I do and here it is... Encourage (well, instruct) patients to fill in online patient information, history and registration forms before their visit.
Yup. It seems like a small step but this small act can have a big impact on your practice. In fact, if you don’t have this protocol in place you are missing out on precious opportunities for your practice.
Instructing a patient, especially a new patient, to fill out these forms on your website before coming in for their appointment achieves three main objectives:
1. Increases office efficiency
This step makes life easier for the doctor and the practice and streamlines the patient’s visit. The 5-10 minutes that it takes the patient to fill in these forms by hand can cause delays in the patient flow of the practice. When pre-filled online, the information is automatically inputted into the patient’s record (saving the administrative staff the time of entering by hand) and the file can be ready for the patient as soon as they walk in the door. This is a win-win. It saves time for the practice, keep the schedule running on time and saves the patient time waiting. Your patients will appreciate this convenience and the modern services you provide.
2. Familiarizes patients with the doctor's website
Filling in your online forms forces a patient to visit your site - even if they call in to schedule the appointment. Why is this important?
First of all, it gives the patient more of a chance to familiarize with the practice, read about the doctor, his services and specialties, and find out about other options available (specialty eyewear, dry eye treatments, vision therapy etc.). This will make the practice more impressive (especially to the new patient) and has the potential to boost sales because it may lead to the patient inquiring about additional products or services of interest.
Secondly, it increases patient retention and loyalty. In the digital age, familiarity with your website will not only ingrain your practice into memory but it will likely come up higher on their next Google search, (it is also likely stored in the cache or user search history of the device). This means quicker and easier mental retrieval and web retrieval of your practice website and information. The more they learn about your practice, the more your patients will feel knowledge about and a connection toward your practice, and the more likely they will be to think of you for their next eye care needs.
Lastly, once a patient has visited your site, they are more likely to make referrals. Whether it is by leaving a positive review on your site, your Facebook page, or on a local business directory, or sending a link to a friend seeking eyecare, once they have connected with you online, the potential network it creates is endless.
3.Increases traffic and time on site
These are important factors for Google and increasing your search ranking to help more new patients find your practice. This is particularly on point for practices that are struggling to increase traffic - encourage patients to fill in your online forms and not only will they spend more time on your site but so will others who will be able to find it easier.
Remember, your website is your 24-hour business card, and so much more. So when your patients are visiting your website, it is just like a virtual visit to your office, where they can get to know you and built trust for a future of eyecare together.