Make the patient experience a little more enjoyable.

Offer people a choice between a visit to the doctor and a swift kick in the rear, and most people will opt for the latter. And most people would rather watch listen to the latest Nickelback album in its entirety than take their six-month visit to the dentist.

Why wouldn’t they? Let’s be honest, going to a medical or dental office isn’t a fun time. You’re poked, prodded, measured and given all sorts of bad news. No one likes to hear they have to cut down their Cheetos intake or that they’re going to need a root canal. You subject yourself to these things because you know it’s better for you in the long run.

But what if you could create a positive patient experience? What if there were a few things you could do that would make the annual visit to the doctor’s office a little less painful? It’s not a dream.

A medical office’s guide to building a positive patient experience.

It starts from before the patient ever walks in the door. The first contact many people will have with your practice is over the phone. Take a good look at your appointment and check-in process. Is it efficient? Look at steps you could streamline to make the process go a little smoother. And make sure whoever is answering the phones does so in a friendly and professional manner.

From there, it’s up to you to oversee the quality of the visit. A good way to ensure everyone is doing their best to make office visits less painful is through regular meetings, involving both staff and leadership. Discuss what is and isn’t working, how you can improve processes, and ways you can communicate more effectively.

Next, you must make sure that everyone is held accountable. No matter how friendly and skilled your nurses and receptionists are, nothing will work without commitment, which begins at the top. Everyone must be held accountable for positive patient experiences.

Finally, give the patients something to take away with them. Most dental offices already give away toothbrushes following visits, but few realize how or why this is effective. People like to receive gifts. They make them remember you positively, even if there visit actually involved kidney stones. There is a wide variety of options to choose from, from pens and pedometers, to towels and water bottles, which are perfectly suited to medical and dental offices.

Consider buying some items branded with your contact information. Not only will your patients appreciate the gesture, but they’ll help spread the message about your practice. And by using the items you gave them, they’ll also imply they had a positive patient experience with you.