One of the top priorities for healthcare providers in 2018 is patient satisfaction. This critical factor, which refers to the patient experience and how well they’re treated, can serve as a valuable indicator for assessing a healthcare provider’s performance. Patient satisfaction also correlates to longer retention time and patient volume, leading to customer loyalty.
Yet while providers want their patients to be happy and get better, they often miss the fact that most patients struggle with anxiety about their ability to pay for that care. Healthcare providers need to understand that to increase patient satisfaction, they must relieve the stress associated with payments.
Patient Satisfaction: A Critical Concern
For health care professionals, patient satisfaction is critical for several reasons. According to a report by Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care, satisfied patients, on average, will tell five people about their experience. That means providers focused on patient care will not only strengthen loyalty among current patients, they’ll attract new ones, as well! It’s a win-win.
On the flip side, poor patient satisfaction can lead to costly outcomes. The loss of a patient due to dissatisfaction can result in the loss of over $200,000 in income over the lifetime of the practice, according to the National Institute of Health. Furthermore, you run the risk of those patients telling others about their unhappiness with your practice.
3 Ways to Improve Patient Satisfaction in Your Practice
Increasing patient satisfaction begins and ends with a quality physician/patient relationship. If you want a more successful practice that’s centered on patient satisfaction, here are three ways to start:
- Be personable. Greet your patient, shake hands and use the patient’s name whenever you can (people love to hear their own name!). Don’t forget to make eye contact when conversing. This shows that you’re paying attention and truly engaged. Take it one step farther by asking questions about their lives, and really listening to their answers. This gives the patient a clear signal that you care—a happy feeling that’s not soon forgotten.
- Respect your patients’ time. Train your team to run on time (or as close as they can), so that wait times are minimized. Patients appreciate punctuality and get frustrated when they feel their time is wasted. In addition, make an effort to return calls promptly and answer patient questions as thoroughly as possible, which can eliminate the need for time-consuming call-backs.
- Train your medical staff. From top to bottom, the culture in your practice sets the tone for patient satisfaction. In fact, it’s essential for keeping patients happy. A patient often interacts with a number of staff members during their visit, which makes it critical for you to have a positive culture in place for excellent patient care and treatment. Is your team smiling and in high spirits, or disgruntled and unapproachable? Either way, it shows—and often leaves a lasting impression.
TIP: Address their financial concerns and offer payment solutions. Offer patients payment options and increase patient engagement with mobile payment options and online bill pay, which are faster, safer and less expensive. Most healthcare consumers prefer to use mobile statements and receive text or email messages that allow them to view and pay their bills online. Also, ensure you accept all forms of credit cards.
Improving Patient Care Moving Forward: Getting Started
Introducing a few changes to your hospital or clinic culture may seem difficult, but it’s not as hard as you think. It just requires a commitment, some simple staff training, and regular check-ins to ensure consistency over time. Remember, achieving enhanced patient satisfaction is an art, not a science. It’s a commitment, not a one-time action. It requires diligent effort, enthusiasm and, above all, consistency.
The good news is this: Genuine caring and concern can go a long way toward making your patients feel valued, respected, and eager to come back.