You don’t need to be told why patient satisfaction in healthcare should be a priority. And you know it when you see it. The patient that walks out of your office beaming with relief and completely confident in your healing abilities—that’s the perfect candidate for your patient satisfaction survey. Many of your patients leave reviews for other businesses regularly. Providing a positive experience means more positive reviews, which means more trust in the services you provide.
Just as you diligently prepare your space for optimal patient safety, you should also nurture the quality of care you provide to improve patient satisfaction at every touchpoint. What if each interaction with your staff released a few endorphins, and every patient went home feeling heard, understood, and empowered? If they’re relaxed and smiling, your patients are likely perceiving you as a quality provider and looking forward to seeing you again. And they’re more likely to give you high patient satisfaction scores—perhaps even recommending you to friends and family.
You can achieve this next-level standard of care with your own team by implementing best practices for patient satisfaction in healthcare.
What is patient satisfaction in healthcare and why is it important?
How happy are your patients—both during their office visit and at home, as they follow your protocols? The answer to this question defines patient satisfaction, which is just as important as clinical outcomes. In fact, the New England Journal of Medicine cites studies that have linked patient satisfaction to improved health outcomes.
Research shows that well over half of medical professionals care just as much about improving patient satisfaction in healthcare as they do about improving clinical workflow and patient safety. Healthcare is patient-driven now more than ever before, as patients expect to be treated as people—not merely as conditions or numbers. Even just a bit of authentic engagement with your patients can go a long way to help drive your bottom line.
Your satisfaction depends on theirs
Over the last couple of decades, some fascinating research has repeatedly illustrated how patient satisfaction can ultimately benefit healthcare providers. When your patients are happier with their care experience, you’re likely to notice:
- Greater loyalty: Like in any field, satisfaction feeds on itself, as patients who feel it develop a bond—that, after a while, no other practitioner can replace.
- Higher retention: Satisfaction leads to trust, and trust leads to compliance. Your recommended check-ups and follow-ups will be much easier to execute for a patient who’s actually looking forward to them.
- Increased profitability: Not only do they book more appointments, but patients who are loyal and compliant may attract new ones—potentially, entire expanded families. As your reputation grows and referrals become a regular part of your practice, retaining them will become easier, as will increasing your profitability.
- Higher staff morale and career satisfaction: Who doesn’t like knowing their work changes lives? That knowledge is a huge motivator for coming into the office and doing one’s best work, even on the most challenging days.
- Increased productivity: As with any profession, high morale brings higher productivity. Members of the team who are passionate about their work tend to do more of it—without counting the hours. When clinicians enjoy their co-workers and feel comfortable in their work environment, turnover is much less frequent.
- Reduced malpractice suits: Patients who are satisfied, trusting, and loyal are less likely to ever consider suing, even if a small mistake should occur over the course of a lifetime of treatment. Research from across the world has demonstrated a direct correlation between patient satisfaction and malpractice suits. Knowing how your patients rate you and why can help you understand—then strategically mitigate—your risk.
All of the above may also lead to the satisfaction of clinicians, both professionally and personally. Happy patients make for happy care teams—inspiring an even deeper motivation to maintain high-performance reputations. Again, like in any other industry, success and positivity feed on themselves.
As you make those checks on your daily appointment list, keep in mind that each scheduled patient could be waiting for medical care in your competitor’s waiting room.
Today more than ever before, healthcare takes a myriad of forms, and patients have increasingly more treatment alternatives. If you don’t strive for patient satisfaction in healthcare settings, you may lose patients—or even allow them to lose faith in the system altogether, and never want to return to any medical waiting room. Stronger relationships simply lead to longer relationships—a win-win scenario.
What affects patient satisfaction?
A slew of medical journals has analyzed why patients leave an office satisfied and psychologically prepared to return for their follow up. Sometimes, however, hectic schedules can cause you to forget these industry best practices:
- Determine what your patient expects from the visit. Along with the facts, they may be craving reassurance and relationships with you and your staff. Asking them directly may work for some, but others will show you what they really need. Maybe they’re intently reading your pamphlets to fully understand their condition and your treatment. Perhaps they’re studying the credentials on your wall to reassure themselves that they’re indeed in good hands. Maybe they’re craving human connection and trying to joke with your staff. Observe, take note, and respond accordingly. If you fulfill their expectations, you’ll earn their trust and, eventually, their praise.
- Really listen. Don’t jump straight into solutions before understanding the patient’s experience and perception of their unique health circumstances. Accept the fact that people now do more research and ask more technical questions. Although it may be tempting to roll your eyes at a Googler-turned-expert-overnight, be prepared to engage and even praise these patients. They yearn to understand the science behind their conditions and your care.
- Allow them to be part of decision-making. When a diagnosis is not immediately clear, and multiple care options are on the table, ask patients to choose which treatment or regimen they’d like to try first. Some may want to dive right into the most aggressive course of action, while others prefer to take more conservative, less invasive measures in the beginning.
No two patients react to treatments exactly the same way—so you may as well experiment together. The more in-control they feel of their health, the less stress they’ll experience. And anxiety has never helped any patient heal. Remember this when aiming for better patient satisfaction in healthcare.
- Get to know the real person inside the patient. Character and lifestyles offer crucial clues to care plans. Is the patient hyper-active? Sedentary? Does the patient eat a healthy diet, or fuel up once a day on fast food? Do they prefer following doctors’ orders immediately, or reading about them first? Is the patient organized? Forgetful? How stressful will it be for them to stick to a complex regimen?
Understanding the character traits that make up an individual will enable you to personalize treatment protocols at the first appointment—instead of managing surprises on the second or third. Engaging with the human behind the condition helps them feel connection and trust, all while helping you deliver more effective care.
- Dress the part. Surveys show that patients prefer to be treated by healthcare providers who are dressed semi-formally. Giving exams in a three-piece suit may be intimidating, but wearing a surfing T-shirt to your first appointment will probably lead to questions about your credibility—no matter how alternative your specialty may be. The majority of patients also prefer to see an easy-to-read name badge somewhere on their healthcare practitioner. And of course, always wear your smile. It’s contagious.
How can technology improve patient satisfaction in healthcare?
In today’s value-based healthcare paradigm, your compensation is no longer based on the quantity, but on the quality of the services you provide. Improving the care that clinicians on your staff are providing is difficult if you don’t have proper data about patient experience. Technology enables you to measure and qualify value-based care.
Just as robotics can improve surgery outcomes, analytical software can improve the quality of care—for both giver and receiver. In the same vein, just like hybrid operating rooms can enable minimally invasive procedures, software can ensure a less strenuous treatment protocol compliance for your patients. And similarly to how infection-detecting technologies make patients feel more confident when stepping into your hospital, software solutions can reassure them that their medical records are mistake and bug-free.
Some healthcare professionals initially turn to technology to promote patient safety. It can reduce medication error by allowing clinicians to electronically send prescriptions to pharmacies. Medical alerts and clinical flags are seen across the board and can be efficiently resolved. Faster, more streamlined communication and information access relieves much of the potential stress on both patient and provider. And there’s so much more a quality platform can do for your team.
Are you striving to align your organization’s goals and mission? Struggling to improve your team’s transparency and accountability? Trying to streamline processes or fill communication gaps that leave team members stressed and confused? You can accomplish all of these goals and better focus on patient satisfaction in healthcare with the right Patient Relationship Management software.
The insights these types of platforms provide can greatly improve your patient satisfaction scores. Once they’re authentically onboard with your mission, results-driven team members will be more than happy to embrace any intuitive technology that enhances your culture of care. A high-quality patient relationship management system will soon become your best friend, as it streamlines your days, weeks, and months by:
- Tracking your workflow and communications. No more missed emails or texts that are essentially rendered useless by the time they’re seen.
- Reducing burnout for your clinicians. Say goodbye to added stress and exhaustion from redundant tasks and repeated messaging.
- Reaching more patients. Technology makes all processes transparent and synchronized, so staying in touch with patients can be accomplished with a few simple clicks of your mouse.
- Improving clinical outcomes. Minimizing anxiety and communication breakdowns saves time, energy, and resources for both patient and provider, easily enabling more favorable outcomes.
- Lowering overall costs. Efficient distribution of resources over time will inevitably lead to cost-cutting, which can help ensure that clinicians’ compensation remains at satisfactory levels.
When choosing your platform for enhanced patient satisfaction in healthcare, make sure it’s customizable to your organization’s needs and team’s quirks. Check to see if it allows you to make your own rules while building the best platform for your particular workflow. Make sure it empowers you to see the big picture so you can make data-driven decisions. Most importantly, ensure it gives your team the greatest advantage by hosting all communications in one place. You’d be surprised how quickly good software helps you put more smiles on more patient’s faces.
Welkin has helped dozens of medical organizations just like yours earn their well-deserved five stars in patients’ eyes. We have set them up to use each care touchpoint to garner maximum patient satisfaction in healthcare spaces. If you’re determined to do the same, tap into years of patient management success with our Guide to Patient Experience. Enable the workday to flow smoothly for your team members so they can deliver unmatched quality of care to the patients who need it—at the times when it matters most.