Value-based care is driving the move toward an increased focus on patient satisfaction. Physician compensation is being impacted by patient satisfaction, but it also reflects on the practice as a whole. The independent physician can measure the success of the practice by gauging the level of satisfaction among the patient panel.
There are a number of myths that should be addressed as you work to improve patient satisfaction:
- Very few patients fill out satisfaction surveys.
- Patients who fill out surveys are generally unhappy with their care.
- Only very unhappy or happy patients make comments on their surveys.
- Patient satisfaction is primarily a popularity contest. Patient satisfaction and quality are not related. Patients can’t evaluate the quality of care that is being delivered.
- You can’t improve patient satisfaction scores significantly in any reasonable timeframe.
- If you build a nice new building, patient satisfaction scores will go up.
Following these eight tips to improve patient satisfaction will help you and your practice recognize and overcome these myths.
Track patient satisfaction with a survey
Send patients a brief, simple survey digitally. The survey should primarily focus on a single topic, such as the patient’s recent office visit. The patient is more likely to complete the survey if it is convenient and quick, taking no more than five minutes to complete. Send the survey via email or the patient portal within 24 to 48 hours after the patient’s office visit.
Examine data closely
In the survey, use primarily close-ended questions that can be answered with a “yes” or “no” or multiple-choice options. This will enable you to compile and examine hard data, in addition to reviewing any comments or suggestions included in the patient’s survey response.
Make the changes recommended
Use the feedback you receive from the survey and make a list of potential changes that will improve patient satisfaction in your practice. Share the survey results with your clinical staff and enlist their participation as you make the improvements.
Follow up to gauge patient opinions of the changes
Patient surveys should not be one and done. As you make improvements in your practice, continue to ask your patients’ opinions about the healthcare and the customer service they’ve received. If you’ve implemented new technology, for example, ask if they are able to use it and if it makes their experiences better. Asking for continued feedback emphasizes to your patients that you are committed to continuous improvement.
Leverage innovative technology
Innovative technology tools, such as electronic health records (EHRs) can enhance your patients’ experiences with your practice. Offering the patient the ability to view medical records, receive referrals, and communicate with you online can significantly improve patient satisfaction.
Improve employee engagement
Healthcare providers are beginning to realize the important connection between engaged, satisfied employees and happy patients. Patient satisfaction is directly related to the overall well-being of the practice, including the level of satisfaction among the clinical staff.
Making it easier for patients to schedule appointments and reducing the wait time when the patient is in the office can contribute to a higher level of satisfaction.
Research has shown that patients consistently consider the level of interaction with the physician and staff as “paramount” in their evaluation of their healthcare experience. They look for consistent communications and clear explanations regarding diagnoses and treatment plans. Patients also appreciate the ability to communicate electronically after the visit to clarify information.