The Importance of Patient Satisfaction
January 11, 2018
With the cost of health care rising, patients are putting off visits to the doctor and taking longer when choosing a physician. The success of any business is largely in part due to their customer’s loyalty and the same is true for a medical practice. Placing a focus on the importance of patient satisfaction is vital for the success and longevity of any physician and their medical practice.
A satisfied patient is likely to return and refer new patients, just as a dissatisfied patient can result in the loss of business or increased risk of a malpractice lawsuit. Aligning expectations of staff/patient interactions and implementing a preferred communication model within a medical practice will ultimately reduce malpractice costs, decrease negative reviews and keep both current and new patients coming in the door.
Reduce Malpractice Costs
In the past 40 years, medical malpractice litigation costs have increased almost 12% annually. With poor communication being the number one reason for patients filing malpractice lawsuits, physicians must be sure there is clear understanding between themselves and their patients. Patients simply want time with their doctors. Give them time to talk through their symptoms and concerns before discussing treatment options. Reiterate their health is top priority. Keep patients thoroughly informed on the reasoning behind plans for their continued treatment.
Ensuring patients understand their prognosis and the importance of any follow up care or medications is key to achieving the best clinical outcome. Ask if there are any additional questions or concerns to be validated. Patients should leave their office visit satisfied, feeling a resolution and/or answers have been provided. This clear communication will increase patients’ likelihood of adhering to the suggested continued care and reduce the risk of a malpractice claim.
Decrease Negative Reviews
Patients are more inclined to tell others about a negative experience than a positive one. Consumer surveys show that people who have unpleasant experiences with a business will tell an average of 9-10 people, whereas customers who have positive experiences will tell an average of five other people. The internet has broadened the reach of reviews incredibly. A negative review of your practice has the potential to not only directly hit the ears ten or so people, but also the eyes of the entire world-wide web.
You only get one chance at a first impression and that chance starts the moment a patient walks into your practice’s waiting room. The patient’s interactions with staff and overall experience in the waiting room is setting the tone for their next interaction with the physician. Be sure the front desk staff is just as welcoming and accommodating to the patients as the physicians are. Having the entire practice staff aligned with a communication model focused solely on the satisfaction of the patient will decrease negative reviews both online and by word-of-mouth.
Increase Patient Referrals & Retention
Each patient with a scheduled appointment is undoubtedly taking time out of their busy day to be there. No one enjoys showing up to a physician’s office and waiting in crowded conditions for extended periods. Have the front desk trained on greeting patients upon arrival, setting wait time expectations, and techniques for dealing with angry or upset patients.
Be sure that your waiting area is comfortable and inviting. Simply providing a beverage station, child entertainment, reading materials and televisions can make a patient’s wait time more enjoyable. It doesn’t cost extra to be nice but it can certainly pay off. Making a patient feel valued and genuinely cared for will keep them coming back. Customer loyalty only improves the long-term success of a medical practice. In turn, loyal patients will be the best form of free advertising by word-of-mouth referrals.
For more information on how to provide First Class Patient Experience, check out our 1 credit CME Webinar (available until Feb. 23rd);