How to Boost Patient Satisfaction
With all of the hustle and bustle involved in healthcare, it can be easy to lose sight of what’s most important, and that is patient care. Patient care isn’t just about diagnosing symptoms and filing paperwork. It’s about the patient’s satisfaction with their experience at their doctor’s office. Boosting patient satisfaction should be the core of everything you do in your practice. After all, where would we be without patients?
Think of it like going to Disney World. Disney World has a completely guest-centric approach to the way it operates. You won’t run into one cast or staff member that isn’t completely devoted to making your Disney experience the best. This approach to guest satisfaction is no secret, it’s just about revolving the experience around the guest! And that approach can be directly applied to your physician’s office. Here are a few ways to improve the satisfaction of your patients today.
Assess The Here And Now
The first step to improving patient satisfaction is to assess their current satisfaction. Think of it as an experiment. Before you can reach a conclusion, you must first look a little deeper and ask some questions.
Anonymous patient satisfaction surveys are a great way to obtain patient feedback. You can administer surveys unobtrusively by asking patients to take the survey while they’re waiting for the physician.
Make Patient Experience A Priority
Once you’ve found out just how satisfied your patients are, it’s time to take some action. The healthcare field is a field solely based around improving the health of patients. The focus of your patients needs to become a lifestyle–a living, breathing part of the practice. In other words, it’s not just enough to make patient experience a priority, all other things must revolve around their experience as well.
Best practices that your physicians can begin using right away:
- Use the patient’s names at least once during your conversation with them
- Explain to the patient what is going to happen next in each part of the visit
- Be attentive to the patient, don’t interrupt or use a computer while they’re speaking
- Look for cues that could indicate the patient is unsure of or unsatisfied with and respond accordingly
- Always respect patient-doctor confidentiality
- Do what you say you will do, when you say you’ll do it
Understand Your Patients
This is where the surveys also come in handy. Before you can start delivering excellent patient care, you first need to understand what your patients want, what they need and what will make their experience a positive one. Understand which part of your patient’s journey drives satisfaction and which parts do not.
Three attributes to consider here are: convenience, comfort and service. Are your services convenient for your patients? Are your patients comfortable with your services and comfortable in your office? Is your practice providing the utmost service? These are all questions to ask when devising a proper patient-experience plan.
Implement A Strategy
A cohesive strategy is a successful one. When deciding on ways to improve patient satisfaction, it’s important that the entire practice be involved in the conversation. In other words, no matter what measures you take to improve the lives of your patients, be sure that the entire staff is on board and involved.
It’s also important to keep in mind that the patient experience spans from the very beginning to the very end of their visit. Meaning that every aspect of your practice should be based around the patient, from the time they walk in the door to the moment they leave.
Not sure how to achieve a patient-centered approach? Let’s go back to three attributes we mentioned earlier: convenience, comfort and service.
Creating better convenience for your patients can also make the lives of your physicians a little easier too. If you haven’t already, consider using text alerts to remind patients of their appointment time with an option for patients to opt out of an appointment or reschedule if they can’t make it. This automatic text is both convenient and time-efficient.
Convenience doesn’t just have to be technical, however. Things like setting up a coffee machine or having informational pamphlets in the waiting room are both ways to improve patient satisfaction through convenience.
Arguably the biggest inconvenience for patients is having to wait too long for an appointment time. If your office is running behind schedule or you think their appointment might start late, be sure to communicate that to the patient and even offer to move their time if necessary.
Creating a comfortable atmosphere is the easiest way to boost patient satisfaction. A dirty, cramped office probably won’t elicit great feelings from your patients. Starting with the waiting room, make sure you provide comfortable seating for your patients. Instead of metal chairs, consider cushioned chairs to provide a homier feel. Place televisions and magazines to pass the time and for children, place toys or games for them to play during their wait.
Patient satisfaction, though greatly affected by convenience and comfort, is largely influenced by the quality of service a patient receives. It’s not enough to send text reminders to patients or have iPads in the waiting room, patients want to feel understood and cared for when visiting your practice.
As healthcare professionals, your patients should feel they can fully trust and rely on you. The easiest and most effective way to provide excellent service is by simply listening to your patients. As mentioned previously, instead of jotting down notes while patients are speaking, take the time to make eye contact and address their concerns. This makes patients feel that they are being cared for, which is the most important part of patient satisfaction.
Once you’ve implemented a strategy to improve patient experience, it’s important to maintain those efforts. Just like you allowed your patients to offer input through surveys in the beginning, you should also allow your patients to give feedback once you’ve begun your strategy. Constant communication and patient feedback is key.
Outsource Services For More Time With Patients
A practice’s ability to maintain and retain patients has just about everything to do with the quality of the patient-provider relationship. However, with all of the tasks required to provide excellent patient care, it’s easy to lose sight of that.
People want to be cared for by people. While caring for a patient’s health is important, it’s also important that the patient feels cared for and understood as well. The majority of a physician’s time is spent typing symptoms and diagnoses into a computer, leaving little time for patient interaction. Outsourcing for medical transcription services can help free up the time of your physicians, leaving more time for quality patient care.
Additionally, partnering with a company that can fully integrate into your EHR (electronic health record) system is equally important. Health records have gone from paper to electronic and while this switch is meant to make things easier on physicians, not being fully integrated into your EHR system can end up hurting your practice.
At DataMatrix Medical, we provide each physician with a team of medical transcription specialists, trained to understand the intricacies of medical terminology as well as the dictation style of the physician they’re assigned to. We work flawlessly with whatever EHR your practice uses. We understand that most practices need many different ways to enter data.
To learn more about medical transcription services and how they can boost patient satisfaction in your practice, visit our website to speak with one of our professionals today.
For more information about the benefits of outsourcing your medical transcriptions, download our free guide, How To Optimize Clinical Productivity Through Outsourcing below.
Nathaniel Smathers, is contributor to the DataMatrix Medical blog with a background in healthcare content creation for over a decade. Nathaniel has a passion for exploring the intersections of healthcare, data analysis, and digital innovation.