Improving Patient Satisfaction

February 13, 2018

In the ever-changing world of healthcare, one thing remains the same… the importance of patient satisfaction. Recent healthcare reforms have placed more emphasis on the role patient satisfaction metrics play in the reimbursement process and using patient satisfaction surveys is becoming more popular among physicians for that reason. This means patient-centered care must be a top focus for healthcare organizations.

Patients with higher satisfaction have overall better health outcomes. Providing a great patient experience begins with understanding the patient. Understanding the needs of your patient gives you the opportunity to enhance their experience at your practice. Applying a patient-centered care model will reduce inefficiencies while providing top-notch, personalized care.

Below is a list of tips to improve patient experience at your medical practice:

  1. Friendly Receptionists & Office Staff

Interactions with office staff can have a huge impact on how patients perceive their overall experience. A patient’s initial contact with your practice is typically by phone. Make sure anyone who is answering phones is friendly and professional or that you have an efficient automated phone system. A rude receptionist or long wait times set the tone for the patient’s next interaction.

When someone enters the doors of your practice, they should be immediately welcomed. Understand there are many places people would rather be than a doctor’s office and often, they are feeling under the weather. Office staff and physicians should take an sympathetic approach when interacting with patients. Being sympathetic to patients will show genuine care for their health and well-being.

  1. Set Time Expectations

The only thing worse than waiting is waiting longer than they expected. Unexplained wait times are longer than explained wait times. Setting expectations for patients gives them an idea of how long they will be waiting. It is also important to give updates should wait times change.

  1. Comfortable & Inviting Waiting Area

A well-designed waiting area can enhance patient perceptions of the quality care provided by your practice. Aside from having quality furnishings and comfortable seating options, waiting rooms should be organized.

Providing features such as televisions, reading material and complimentary wi-fi (password posted in waiting area) to occupy patients in the waiting area will make the length of their wait time appear shorter. If a large portion of your patients are children, a child-friendly area with toys and activities could be a value add to their waiting experience.

  1. Give Your Patient Time

It’s no surprise there is a correlation between longer visit times and patient satisfaction. Give patients the time to voice their concerns and explain their symptoms. Be attentive and empathetic to their situation they are in. It lets them know you genuinely care.

Explain the thought process behind any recommended treatments or medications. Be thorough when answering questions and explaining a diagnosis. Make sure there is clear understanding and a follow-up plan before the end of the appointment.

  1. Coordinated Follow-Ups & Reminders

Appointment reminders, prescription refill alerts and wellness check-in calls are a great way to stay in touch with patients. Following up with your patients will also help avoid any confusion or missed appointments. These efforts can usually be automated through a practice’s patient database.