Patient experience is the cornerstone of running a medical practice successfully. It applies to all treatment specialties, and behavioral health is no exception. Mental health and addiction patients may expect and need even a better level of care than those suffering from physical ailments and injuries. Not surprisingly, behavioral health providers have to go the extra mile with patient experience every time.
The demand for behavioral care is high in the US, but it hardly means that people are ready to settle for less. According to 2023 statistics, there are 15,163 mental health and substance abuse practices in the country, marking an increase of 5.2% from 2022. That translates into stiff competition, which may increase even more in the future.
Beyond your expertise as a provider, you can leverage the overall patient experience to deliver satisfaction and boost retention. Here are a few actionable ways to elevate it:
Focus on Trust and Confidentiality
Mental illnesses are rampant in the US, with more than one in five American adults living with a mental illness. Despite the widespread prevalence, this stigma related to issues such as substance addiction, depression, and anxiety is a reality. Quality patient care is about maintaining the trust and confidentiality of patients throughout their treatment journey.
Providers can help patients deal with the fear of stigma with the following measures:
- Talking openly about behavioral health issues
- Being honest about treatment
- Using the right language during interactions
- Showing compassion toward patients
- Ensuring data privacy and ethics
Leverage Telehealth for Better Care
Leveraging telehealth solutions is another effective strategy for elevating the quality of patient care in behavioral health settings. The pandemic fueled the adoption of telehealth, making it a silver lining to the landscape. Patients who are hesitant to attend in-person appointments are far more comfortable with virtual consultations.
The best part is that there is enough evidence to validate the effectiveness of telehealth technology for mental health and substance disorders. Integrating it into your service offerings is an excellent measure to take the patient experience a notch higher. Most clinics already have the process in place after the pandemic. You only need to emphasize it more to give the best services.
Another factor that can set you up for success relates to your core operations. The more you simplify them, the more you can focus on patient satisfaction. But providers often struggle during expansion because it causes a burden on the backend processes such as medical billing, finance, and compliance. The last thing you should do is overlook patient care only to stay ahead on the administrative front.
You can simplify operations by letting behavioral health billing software do the heavy lifting so that you can focus on your core expertise. Besides easing the billing process, it ensures compliance with state and federal regulations. Further, it can help with health claims, which can be far more complicated than other medical services.
According to Millin, a custom software solution is the best way to automate the billing process. It should align with your patient demographics, locations, and payers for the best outcomes. Providers who use such solutions along with an Electronic Health Record system get a collection rate of up to 99.2%, which is much higher than the industry average.
Be the Specialist People Choose and Recommend
Statistics show that only 36% of patients leave their providers after two years. The way they feel about the quality of care can be a key reason for retention or churn. You cannot go complacent with the basics when it comes to going above and beyond with patient care.
Technologies like telehealth and billing software definitely give you an edge, but you need to pay attention to the smaller things. Simply speaking, be the specialist people choose and recommend to others.
You can do it by implementing the following steps:
- Ensure a comfortable in-patient experience with a positive ambiance, warm interactions, and a feasible location
- Ease the appointment scheduling process online and offline
- Integrate educational content on your website to create trust and authority as a provider
- Seek feedback and follow up with the patients post-appointment
A robust methodology of service and communication gives you a head start with excellent patient experiences. You must also bring skilled, experienced, and empathic providers and administrators on board because they can make all the difference to how your patients feel throughout the treatment.
Delivering top-notch patient experience is your responsibility as a behavioral health provider. Your patients need it as much as an appropriate and effective treatment plan. You can rely on these measures to ensure patient satisfaction, make them stick, and gain credibility for your practice. The effort may seem significant, but it is worthwhile.