When patients visit your facility or practice, are they greeted with a big smile and a friendly “hello”? Are they assisted promptly, or forced to wait unreasonable lengths of time for consultation?
Enjoying a pleasant environment inside a doctor’s office has always been important, however, most patient satisfaction surveys today conclude that patient engagement is predominantly at the level of the physician. The physician’s ability to listen and engage with patients therefore plays a vital role in patient satisfaction.
Here are 7 ways to boost satisfaction and turn patients into delighted healthcare customers:
- Physician empathy: Research findings have repeatedly demonstrated that patients derive their degree of satisfaction primarily from how much empathy was exhibited by their physician. Accordingly, physicians can “move the needle” favorably by taking the time to turn away from their portal, look patients in the eye, and address their concerns with genuine compassion.
- Develop a culture of friendliness: Nurses and other co-workers in a medical practice look to the higher-ups (e.g. the physicians), to set the tone in matters of attitude and behavior. This offers the opportune time for physicians to work actively towards developing a culture of respect, confidentiality, and friendliness. Human nature can then take over, with the office’s welcoming tenor overflowing to patients.
- Practice effective listening: Don’t just hear what the patient is saying, concentrate instead on what is actively being said using gestures and body language to make the patient sense that you are truly listening. For measuring patient satisfaction, two questions always come up:
- Did your physician listen to you and understand what you were saying?
- Did your physician explain issues in a manner that you could easily understand?
Recent patient satisfaction surveys have shown that physicians who routinely show dominance and lack of concern experience greater levels of patient discontentment and malpractice claims.
- Keep patients informed: Telling patients what to expect starts with staff that usher the patient to the examination room, and ends with check-out teams who recap the billing and schedule follow-up visits.
During the examination, phrases such as “I’m going to enter your information now,” and “here’s what we’re going to do,” go a long way towards comforting patients and keeping them engaged.
- Provide written visit summaries: Patient satisfaction is greatly enhanced when the patient can review a written summary. These summaries generally include:
- Essential patient information needed for subsequent healthcare coordination
- A list of allergies and medications in the patient’s current record
- A summary of what transpired during the examination, the prescribed treatment, and the desired follow-up
- Resolve patient issues: In confronting an irate patient, it is important for both doctors and nurses to:
- Mitigate defensiveness and learn the merits of saying “I’m sorry” in regards to process malfunctions
- Replace apathy with understanding, often by taking the patient’s side regardless of who is to blame
- Abolish the “blame’ mentality wherever it is perceived by office staff
- Ensure everyone understands their purpose: Employees have daily tasks and responsibilities, but do they appreciate that they play a vital role in the organization? Patient satisfaction is greatly enhanced when members of the staff stop functioning like independent players and start believing that:
- They have a bigger purpose within the organization
- The organization is better off because of the role they play
- Fulfilling their purpose with diligence is the best contribution they can make
Measuring patient satisfaction is handicapped by the fact that patients think of their experience holistically rather than in individual occurrences. Thus, “I had a good experience” is often the pronouncement, leaving it up to the patient satisfaction survey to decipher precisely how the experience went. This means that a patient is often inclined to cut the provider some slack following an overall good visit, rather than listing every grievance following an unsatisfactory experience.
If you’re ready to start building a medical practice dedicated to providing quality care for every patient, check out our sample survey template designed to help you realize all the benefits that come with asking the right survey questions.