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How to Improve Patient Satisfaction: Expert Tips for Physicians


This blog was originally published in November 2021 and was updated in April 2024

As a physician, have you ever wondered how to improve patient satisfaction? Providing quality healthcare goes beyond medical expertise. It also means creating a positive experience for your patients. Fortunately, there are expert tips. They can improve patient satisfaction and strengthen the doctor-patient relationship.

Patient satisfaction plays a crucial role in healthcare. It affects patients' overall experience. It also affects their trust, treatment adherence, and likelihood of recommending your practice. As healthcare becomes more patient-centered, physicians must focus on improving patient satisfaction. In this article, we will explore tips to help physicians enhance patient satisfaction. 

Why is patient satisfaction important?

In healthcare, we cannot overstate the importance of patient satisfaction. It's a crucial factor that impacts the success and reputation of healthcare providers.

Patient satisfaction in healthcare is more than how people feel about the care they get. It affects their loyalty, how likely they are to follow medical advice, and their willingness to recommend the care to others.

Ultimately, high levels of patient satisfaction are a competitive advantage. Understanding it and focusing on what it entails can improve patient outcomes. It can also strengthen the financial and operational health of healthcare practices. So, providers need to offer great experiences to patients.

Components of patient satisfaction

Focusing on patient satisfaction goes beyond providing quality healthcare. It's about building lasting relationships with patients, ensuring their loyalty, and improving the healthcare experience on all fronts. So, understanding what drives patient satisfaction is important.

Several key factors collectively shape the patient experience, influencing their perception of care. By understanding and improving in these areas, healthcare providers can enhance patient satisfaction.


Clear and effective communication is key to patient satisfaction. This involves presenting medical information in a simple way.

It also requires active listening and responding with compassion. The goal is to make sure patients are well-informed about their health and treatment plans. This helps patients feel more in control and satisfied with their care.

Provider empathy

Empathy means providers show they care and understand what patients are going through. When patients feel understood by their doctors, it builds trust. It also strengthens the bond between patients and their healthcare providers. When providers practice empathy, it creates a supportive atmosphere, enhancing the patient experience.

Quality of care

The quality of healthcare is crucial to patient satisfaction. It must be effective, efficient, and safe. Quality healthcare will boost patient trust and enhance their confidence in treatment plans. It also creates faster recovery times and fewer errors, leading to improved patient outcomes.

Wait times and access

Patients appreciate short wait times for appointments and easy access to healthcare. Lengthy waiting times can cause patient dissatisfaction. Thus, healthcare providers should aim to improve scheduling.

Providers can streamline the appointment process by using advanced technology. This includes tools like electronic health records (EHRs) and online scheduling tools.

Also, telehealth services can drastically cut wait times for non-emergency care. These services can also increase access for patients in remote or underserved areas.


Patient-centered care ensures healthcare aligns with each patient's unique preferences, needs and values. It allows patients to help decide on their care and ensures they feel heard and valued.

This type of care leads to better communication. Patients trust their doctors more and get better health results. They feel more involved and less stressed. By making healthcare responsive to each patient, providers can create more satisfying and positive experiences.

How to measure patient satisfaction

Measuring patient satisfaction helps providers understand the impact of their healthcare services. It also helps identify areas that need improvement.

To gather patient feedback, provide them with a brief survey. Offer the option to complete the survey online, or provide the link in an email right after their visit. The survey can cover everything from communication to the quality of care. To incentivize patients to fill out a survey, you should consider offering rewards for patients such as a gift card or small gift.

When considering their satisfaction with healthcare providers, patients often focus on specific aspects.

  • Being treated as an individual rather than merely a patient.
  • Accessibility and convenience of scheduling appointments.
  • The quality of communication with the provider and the clinical team. This includes online options.
  • Overall interaction and experience with the staff at the physician's office.

The independent physician and the practice team should read the survey responses thoroughly. This feedback provides valuable insights. It shows where the practice or healthcare delivery could improve. By fixing issues and making changes, healthcare providers can meet and exceed patient expectations. This will further create a positive and supportive care environment.

6 key steps for successfully improving patient satisfaction

Steps for improving patient satisfaction include:

Step 1: Utilize EHR Technology

Electronic health records (EHRs) allow patients access to their records. This includes lab results and diagnostics. An EHR system can also remind patients of appointments, offering easy scheduling and a portal for communication.

Step 2: Improve employee engagement

The practice's well-being affects patient happiness. This includes the staff's satisfaction. Healthcare organizations can create a supportive environment by focusing on employee engagement. This means fostering a positive work culture and providing opportunities for professional growth. These efforts improve both employee satisfaction and patient care outcomes. In turn, this contributes to a positive and fulfilling healthcare experience for patients.

Step 3: Reduce appointment wait times

The goal is to cut wait times for appointments. This includes when appointments are available and the time in the waiting room before seeing the doctor. Reduced wait times are key to increasing the level of patient satisfaction. 

Step 4: Increase focus and active listening during visits

Spend more time focusing on the patient during the visit. Research has shown that satisfaction rates improve when visit lengths increase. More than simply chatting with the patient, actively listening to them can make them feel more valued and connected with the provider.

Step 5:  Improve communication channels and clarity in treatment plans

Improving communication methods, both electronically and in person, is essential. Patients value physicians who explain diagnoses and treatment plans clearly and consistently. Additionally, providing a convenient way for patients to ask questions and raise concerns after appointments increases patient satisfaction. Give patients enough time during the appointment to ask any questions they have, and encourage them to reach out through a secure messaging portal with any questions they have after the appointment.

Step 6: Examine data closely

When using surveys, write mostly close-ended questions. Give patients the option to answer with a “yes”, “no”, or multiple-choice option. This will help providers to compile and examine hard data. It will also help when reviewing any comments or suggestions in the patient’s survey. 

Elevate patient satisfaction with Elation EHR and Billing 

Elation EHR and billing offers a complete practice management solution for independent physicians. Our complete platform includes features that are proven to help increase patient satisfaction such as direct patient messaging, appointment scheduling, and real-time insurance verification. Learn more about Elation EHR and billing today, and request a sample patient chart to see how Elation makes it easy to provide exceptional care. 


What is patient satisfaction?

Patient satisfaction measures how content a patient is with the healthcare they receive from their provider. It includes many aspects of the patient's experience. These include quality of care, communication, appointment convenience, and treatment outcomes. Patient satisfaction reflects the patient's view of their healthcare experience. It is crucial for assessing healthcare delivery.

What questions should physicians ask to gauge patient satisfaction?

Doctors can gauge patient satisfaction by asking closed-end questions tailored to their care, as well as general questions about their experience with your staff and with your clinicians. Here are a list of sample questions to include in a patient satisfaction survey:

  • On a scale from 1-10, how easy was it for you to schedule an appointment? 
  • On a scale from 1-10, how would you rate the communication from our team before, during, and after the appointment?
  • On a scale from 1-10, how likely are you to recommend our services to friends and family?
  • On a scale from 1-10, how would you rate the professionalism of our staff?
  • On a scale from 1-10, how adequately do you feel your medical concerns were addressed today?

How can physicians address concerns raised by patients effectively?

Actively listening to patients is a great first step to effectively address concerns. Active listening means being fully present, showing interest, and withholding judgment. Practicing empathy is another effective way to address a patient's concerns. By showing you truly care and understand them makes them feel understood. Finally, using patient-centered care leads to more trust and better health outcomes.

How can physicians ensure patients feel valued during their visits?

Doctors can ensure patients feel valued during their visits. They can do this by actively showing respect. They can also engage with patients on a personal level and use their preferences in tailored treatment plans. This approach creates a sense of partnership and empathy. It empowers patients and enhances the overall healthcare experience.