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How Pediatricians Can Set Their Practices Apart

A fantastic patient experience is important across healthcare, but it’s especially crucial for pediatricians. During every visit, you have to satisfy two very different audiences: your patients and their parents. But when you get it right, the results are more than rewarding. You’ll shape your patients’ first memories of going to the doctor, helping them form positive associations associations with healthcare to last them the rest of their lives. 

Setting yourself apart as a great pediatrician hinges on pairing quality medical care with attentive customer service. Focus on these 6 aspects of the patient experience to leave parents happy and kids smiling.

1. Wow with your waiting room

Ambiance matters for any medical practice, but it’s particularly important when you’re working with kids. Having a whimsical office with colorful decorations will enhance patient experience immediately. It will also make the time spent in the waiting room more tolerable.

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Paint your office in bright colors and use artwork and easy-to-clean toys to make the space kid-friendly. Consider painted murals — such as scenes of animals covering the walls of your waiting room and exam room — to add character.

Use technology to up the wow-factor, too. Deck out your waiting room with touchscreen game tables, or use televisions to display age-appropriate programming and interactive games.

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2. Embrace distractions

Speaking of fun, harness the power of distractions to ensure appointments run as smoothly as possible. Distractions don’t have to be high-tech: Use a song to turn 6-month immunizations into a game; hand out coloring books to keep children busy while you work.

You can even use decor as a distraction tool. For example, you can keep younger children occupied by asking them to count the spots on a painted giraffe mural, for instance. Additionally, posters featuring puzzles or games could be tailored to the interests and abilities of a broad swath of patients.  

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t embrace higher-tech solutions as well. Try using TVs or tablets to keep children distracted during exams. If those ideas are outside your budget, steer parents toward free distraction apps — like “Big Shots Get Shots,” developed by Healthline to help children overcome needle phobia — to install on devices before coming in for a visit. 

3. Focus on customer service

The stress of caring for a sick child can make a minor inconvenience feel like a major setback, so investing time in outstanding customer service can really set you apart. It will be easier to smooth over misunderstandings and generally face conflict when your patient relationships are built on empathy and open communication. 

Staffing your office with friendly, attentive workers who share your core values puts you on the right track to offer great customer service. But training is important as well, so develop office policies for addressing common customer service issues, such as cancellations, and make sure your staff understands how to follow them.

Pay special attention to follow-up care. A quick call to check in the next day goes a long way in showing how much you value patients and their families. 

4. Invest In your online presence

A stellar website and active social media profiles might seem more like marketing than customer service, but your online presence is also an important part of the patient experience. Use your blog or social media profiles to address parents’ questions and offer advice on preparing for appointments.

If you don’t have the budget to blog consistently, consider making a one-time investment in a suite of five to six posts covering parents’ most common concerns. Share articles without the timestamp so your blog content stays evergreen.

5. Offer flexible booking

When you’re busy caring for a sick child, taking the time to pick up the phone and book an appointment can feel like an imposition. Not to mention, that much-needed appointment rarely gets booked on the first call. Offer online booking so parents can book appointments at any time, from anywhere. 

Online booking has other advantages, too. It allows parents to see same-day availabilities at a glance. This both puts them at ease and increases your ability to fill every open slot. 

6. Send text notifications

An online booking platform already sets you apart, but you can take your customer service to the next level with SMS notifications. Put a concerned parent at ease with a quick text to let them know an earlier time slot opened up. Reduce potentially stressful time in the waiting room with a text saying you’re running 15 minutes late. There are even options for automating these messages (with a personal touch).

A text only takes a few seconds and instantly makes parents feel valued and cared for — and eager to tell their friends about the fantastic service they received at your office. Very few specialties benefit from word-of-mouth referrals as much as pediatrics does.