Why first impressions of providers matter more for new patients: 4 insights

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Patients who felt their medical providers and staff were competent during a first visit were more likely to continue to visit the practice, according to a report by athenaInsight.

Here are four insights from the report. 

1. Researchers from athenahealth analyzed data from more than 200,000 patient surveys issued by MedStatix. The report revealed the longer patients had to wait before meeting their provider during a first appointment, the less likely they were to recommend the practice to friends.

2. Eighty-two percent of patients who waited 0-5 minutes before meeting their provider during a first appointment were likely to recommend the practice, compared to 47 percent of patients who waited 45 or more minutes.

3. "Patients want to know what's going to happen to them and when and why, and they want people to be kind and have an appreciation for the fact that this is a person going through a difficult circumstance," said Barbara Sarnoff Lee, senior director of social work and patient and family engagement at Boston-based Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

4. To ensure a practice has loyal patients, Ms. Sarnoff Lee also recommends practices pair technology tools with face-to-face efforts to improve engagement, such as smiles and knowing names. "[Tech] should enhance the experience and give people access to information," she said. "But at the end of the day, when you're sick and scared, nothing can help you the way humans can."

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