business increases 25% by putting patient experience first

Press Release     Contact:  Deb Andelt
For Immediate Release    [email protected] 480-945-7035
Orthodontist Increases Business by Putting Patients’ Experience First

(January 5,  2008 – Omaha, Nebraska)  Dr. Kort Igel has owned and operated his successful orthodontic practice for over 20 years.  Now, in this challenging market when the industry is experiencing an overall trend of up to a 20% reduction in business, Igel is successfully demonstrating how to increase business and reenergize a practice.

This year, for the first time, Igel was awarded the Omaha Magazine “Best of Omaha – Best Orthodontist” and the Readers’ Choice “Best of the Big O” award.   Both awards are based on nominations and votes from the public.  “In addition to seeing the business results from the changes we’re making, it’s very inspiring that our patients voiced their appreciation for the experience we’re providing through these awards,” Igel comments.

When Igel recently completed a state-of-the-art remodel of his new location in Omaha, Nebraska, he also thought about all the other aspects of his business, and how he could incorporate other forward-thinking practices.  He found and implemented a solution that has been successful in other industries ? based on viewing his practice through the eyes of his customers – a patient experience approach.

“As a result modifying how we approach the practice from the patient’s point of view, there was an immediate increase in business of about 25% within six months.  After about 18 months we were fully booked.  New patients are up from patient referrals, the best way to get them,” Igel states.

His search for a solution led him to a customer experience program based on how a person feels at each interaction.   What do they experience when choosing an orthodontist?  How do they feel when they come in for treatment?  And how could Igel make this “journey” they embark on the best possible experience it can be?  Using the sensory input such as color, smell, and language all carefully designed to maximize the positive aspects of human interaction and customer perception, and re-crafting some business processes, the program is having the hoped-for results.

Igel comments, “This reenergized me and the entire practice.  It has made it more fun to come to the office for myself, staff and patients!  Of all the things we have implemented over the years, these changes were the most intuitive, relatively easy changes that have made a substantial impact on staff engagement and patient results.”

Braces are not something most people look forward to, and the traditional focus on braces and telling patients what not to do doesn’t provide much comfort.  Igel identified three specific feelings their patients wanted to feel.  This meant a change in orientation for the practice, realizing that their patients weren’t really there for braces. Patients are really there to have a healthy smile.  Now all decisions can be made around those three feelings and the focus on healthy smiles.

For example, patients and their families are more interested in what foods can be eaten than what can’t be eaten.  Focusing on what can be eaten creates feelings of being “understood” and “comfortable.”  Keeping teeth clean can be challenging.  Tell patients that “clean teeth move faster,” and they’ll be out of braces sooner, and the result is patients keep their teeth cleaner.  Changing the focus of the message creates a sense of “understanding” and “comfort.”  Everyone is happier with this new focus. The staff has a new, positive approach and patients know what to do to be successful.
Changes are gradually incorporated as opportunities arise.  With the customer experience tools, “what” Igel and his team do has not changed as much as “how” they approach and deliver the experience.  Staff roles were immediately put into place with corresponding measurement and evaluation criteria.  Office posters, marketing collateral and other environmental sensory elements were gradually switched to incorporate new, positive messages.  New processes and communication tools were added into the patient journey (before, during and after braces) over a six month period.

Besides tracking financial results, patient surveys were implemented focusing on how patients feel and their likelihood to refer.  Survey results for the last two years demonstrate Igel’s patients are feeling the difference, and those positive feelings are reflected in their comments about their experience and their referrals.  For example, 96.8% of respondents agreed with the survey statement “When we arrive for an appointment we feel “welcomed” [one of Igel’s desired experience feelings] by staff.”  Patient comments include:   “Always nice and comforting to see such lovely smiles and friendly faces” and “Friendly, courteous and caring staff.”  This is exactly the kind of positive emotional response that Igel is seeking.  98% of the respondents said they were likely to refer.

Igel and his staff work with customer experience guidelines, called “tools,” developed by Experience In Motion (EIM) to view all aspects of his practice – people, processes and the environment – to create a cohesive experience based on how patients want to feel.  The EIM tools, customized for Igel’s practice, are documents that guide decisions and behavior across all aspects of the business.  This is what makes it easy for all staff members and external experts (marketing professionals, interior designers, architects, etc.) to be on the same page about the desired results.

Changes to the experience continue based on feedback from patients as well as continuing to identify more ways the business processes can be adjusted to support the desired feelings.  The key to implementation is tools.  With customer experience practice management tools, implementation can begin immediately, often for little or no cost.

“No matter how a business is currently operating, when the lens of the customer is applied to create experiences that work, from the view of the customer, it always contributes to increased business success.  Because our approach is based on deep neuroscience knowledge, the customer feels connected to the business as more aspects of the experience design are brought to life,” Nancy O’Brien, co-creator of EIM and The Toolkit To Empower Healing, states.

Results like this have to make any business owner feel “good!”
About Experience In Motion:  EIM offers The Toolkit To Empower Healing in their Creating Healing Experiences That Work workshops.   Based on the success of the work done with Igel and his staff, EIM developed tools applicable for a range of healthcare related practices.   Practitioners can easily work with the information contained in the flexible tools and decide what and how they implement the guidelines based on their particular situation and desired emotional feelings.  EIM provides workshops in-house so the entire staff can be equipped, empowered and energized.   All the EIM tools can be customized for particular businesses or industry segments.