eClinicalWorks Blog Details

  • 24 August 2021
  • Blog

In Healthcare, First (and Last) Impressions Matter



How to engage and retain patients

You’ve heard it said you only get one chance to make a first impression. That’s true for things as trivial as trying a new restaurant and as important as meeting your spouse’s family for the first time. In healthcare, first impressions can have a long-lasting impact on patients’ perceptions of your practice — and your bottom line.

A November 2019 study of Italian and Dutch patients’ impressions of physicians’ communication styles concluded that “the first impression has a strong impact on positive and negative judgments on doctors’ communication approach and may facilitate or inhibit all further interactions.”

Start at the very beginning

Patients in the study had the advantage of watching recorded doctor/patient encounters. Your potential patients have less to go on. Their first experience with your practice may be a phone call or an online search. You need to make their experience as inviting as possible.

With healow CHECK-IN, patients can complete their previsit paperwork from the comfort of home, even days before their appointment. And healow Open Access® lets you offer patients the convenience of requesting or even booking appointments on your website — the first time they land there.

How an Arkansas practice is thriving

PrimeCARE Medical Clinic in Little Rock, Arkansas, has experienced the difference Patient Engagement tools can make. The practice offers primary and urgent care, internal medicine, pediatrics, and mental health services to more than 75,000 patients.

After using healow CHECK-IN for 10,000 patient visits:

  • The average patient visit was reduced by 10 minutes overall — less wait time without affecting the encounter itself.
  • Their no-show rate was reduced by 8%.
  • Patient satisfaction scores improved by 70%.

“Contactless check-in enters information directly into eClinicalWorks,” said Tyler Gentry, PrimeCARE’s practice manager. “Our patients can choose their place of comfort to check in and allow us to do the rest instead of them standing in line at reception.”

Improving satisfaction for patients and providers

Gentry said patients appreciate not having to linger in the waiting room and being able to provide information electronically. But advantages accrue to the practice’s staff, too.

“By mapping questionnaires specifically to these visit types,” he said, “we were able to properly screen patients while gathering the medical information we need to aid in our chart capture.”

Gentry’s comment points to another effect of strengthening the patient’s first impression of your practice — the impact that has on overall operations, workflows, the bottom line, and reducing the risks of physician burnout.

We’d add one more point: When patients have a great first impression of your practice, it tends to become their lasting impression. And that’s a critical factor in leading them to return to your practice time after time.

For more information about healow Patient Engagement products, contact

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