In today’s day and age, people are used to instant gratification. Packages are delivered overnight — or within a two-day timeframe at the most. Groceries can be delivered right to your doorstep. Need a date? Swipe right or left, depending on what you’re looking for in a potential match. And, when it comes to healthcare, people are expecting the same level of efficiency. This encompasses everything about your practice — from the ease of scheduling to quality of care, everything you do plays a role in whether your patient will stick around for their continued medical needs. But, what exactly is patient satisfaction? How is it measured? And, what can you do to increase it?
What is patient satisfaction?
Patient satisfaction is an umbrella term that refers to every single component that makes a person happy to choose your practice. This includes their experiences in and outside of your office. The most common metrics include:
- Ease of scheduling appointments
- Friendliness of personnel
- Waiting room wait times
- Cleanliness of the location(s)
- Quality of healthcare
- Building relationships
- A good bedside manner
- Physical comfort
- Telehealth alternatives
- Discharge information
- Follow-up reminders
- Appointment reminders
How is patient satisfaction measured?
There are different ways to measure how satisfied your patients are. These can include any and/or all of the following:
Patient surveys will allow you to know whether you’re meeting your patients’ expectations. They can help you identify blind spots and find areas for improvement. They’ll let you know if new policies are working and which ones you can do without. All this feedback is crucial to remain competitive, as it lets patients know that their opinions are valuable to you. In addition, since they are typically conducted anonymously, it takes away the discomfort or awkwardness of telling you something you may not want to hear.
Online reviews are often the first thing potential patients see about your practice. In fact, a majority of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Therefore, it’s crucial to have a strategy – from encouraging patients to leave reviews, monitoring them, thanking individuals for the good ones, and addressing the bad ones. By the same token, if you see a bad review, don’t see it necessarily as a negative. You can take it as an opportunity to work with something you may not have realized was a problem.
While patient satisfaction surveys can provide a goldmine of information, patient interviews also offer visual cues — such as facial expressions, hesitations, and other gestures. They also provide you with an opportunity to build a rapport and establish a relationship with your patients. In addition, patient interviews help patients feel heard. Maybe they have an issue you hadn’t considered before — such as the concerns of LBTTQ+ patients, or someone who’s had previous bad experiences with a doctor’s bedside manner — that provide you with an opportunity to improve your quality of care.
Patients always have two options — remain with you for their long-term care or choose to go to a competing practice. While you can’t always control someone’s decision to go somewhere else (such as a move across the country), there are many things you can do to make your patients feel comfortable. When patients feel seen and heard, they will keep coming back to your practice. The best way to do so is to foster patient engagement. Send them birthday cards. Ask about things they’ve shared with you in the past (such as upcoming vacations, celebrations, or concerns). Call them after a procedure to check up on them. Respond to their feedback. And, value their time. If they schedule an appointment, see them at that time — or as close to it as possible.
How to Increase Patient Satisfaction
Increasing patient satisfaction comes down to always prioritizing not only their healthcare, but their entire experience. Focusing on patient satisfaction will significantly improve the patient experience — which in turn, favorably affects your bottom line. The most important issues to address include:
1. Stay on Top of Innovation
Innovation makes processes more efficient. If patients are worried about exposure to COVID, offer telehealth appointments. For those who need to come into an office, make sure the checking-in process is as easy as possible. Send them paperwork beforehand so that they can fill it out online and reduce their time in waiting rooms. Invest in cutting-edge technology that makes diagnosis and treatment more comfortable and accurate.
2. Create a Welcoming Environment
Hospitals and other medical settings tend to be uncomfortable — they are freezing cold, have harsh lighting, or look sterile and unwelcoming. Look for ways to make your practice more welcoming by providing softer lighting, setting a reasonable indoor temperature, investing in comfortable furniture, including wall art and potted plants, soft music, and train your staff to make everyone feel welcome.
3. Address Patients by their Name
Introduce yourself every time you meet a new patient and ask them how they prefer to be addressed — by their first, last name, or a nickname. Make a note in their file for future visits, and review them before seeing them again. This will personalize the experience in an already often uncomfortable situation.
4. Make Eye Contact
Nonverbal behaviors have a significant impact on patient experience. They are often crucial in establishing doctor-patient relationships, and communicate empathy, comfort, concern, and attentiveness. While it’s understandable that you have to read a patient’s file in order to provide sound medical advice, keeping your eyes on their paperwork while they’re speaking to you can make them feel like they’re being ignored.
5. Use The Correct Pronouns
Everyone says they want to provide a good patient experience, but often overlook trans and nonbinary patients. This exacerbates the stigma and discrimination they experience in their everyday lives — and which has no place in a healthcare setting. Train your staff to handle such scenarios so that your patients are not left in the uncomfortable position of having to explain things in a waiting room. In addition, letting members of the LGBTTQ+ community know that you value their comfort fosters greater communication for better treatment — such as addressing issues of anxiety and depression.
6. Provide Accurate Visit Summaries
When working on visit summaries, make sure everything you’re inputting applies specifically to that patient instead of just copying and pasting from a premade checklist. This will show patients that you’re paying individual attention to their file. It will also save you from the embarrassment of having to admit to an upset patient that you use boilerplate when sending them follow-up emails. In addition, make their lives easier by including reminders of at-home care, such as medications, physical therapy, and/or diet and lifestyle modifications.
Need Creative Ideas? The Symphony Agency Can Help
Increasing patient satisfaction comes down to building relationships and making things as easy and convenient as possible. And, while there are things that have to be implemented on-site at your office, the Symphony Agency can help you develop a course of action, provide you with business intelligence solutions, and ensure that your digital marketing is right on track. For more information about our services, contact our client experience team today.