The Doctor Really Will See You Now: 10 Ways to Improve Patient Satisfaction

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Amid the uncertainty of the current healthcare landscape, one thing remains clear: keeping patients satisfied is essential to both patient health and the health of your practice. It can help boost patient referral and retention, save practice time, and affect reimbursement.

Yet keeping patients happy can be difficult—and not just because you’re under more pressure to provide high-quality care to growing numbers. Patients now expect more from you and your staff.

 

Boost patient satisfaction: 10 tips

While many elements of patient satisfaction may be out of your control, there are some simple things you can do to make your patients (and your bottom line) happier.

  1. Offer quality customer service in addition to care. One study reveals that 96% of patient complaints are related to customer service.1 Polite, friendly office staff can make a big difference.
  2. Inform—and inspire—your staff. Make sure they understand the role they play in affecting quality and patient satisfaction, and remind them of your shared purpose—helping patients and improving health and healthcare.
  3. Ensure that your staff responds to complaints appropriately. Office staff, especially, may receive more complaints than they can manage. Make sure they know how to respond to disgruntled patients in a way that’s constructive. A simple acknowledgement and apology can go a long way.
  4. Start on time, so that you can run on time. Easier said than done, right? You’re overloaded, and of course, patients can run late, too. But 35% of patients cite long wait times as a chief complaint.2
  5. Set patient expectations. What can they expect from your practice in terms of after-hour needs, refills, and appointment scheduling? The more they know, the more satisfied they may be.
  6. Give your patients actual face-time. EHRs have their advantages; fostering eye contact with patients is not one of them. Looking up from your computer or mobile device can be a simple but effective way to connect.
  7. Create a peaceful waiting room experience. If your patients have to wait, make sure they’re doing it in an environment that mitigates rather than aggravates their dissatisfaction, allowing them to read or check email.
  8. Educate and follow up. Patients can forget much of what is said during a visit. Help them remember with written summaries, education materials, and instructions. Have them repeat back to you what you’ve told them to do.
  9. Use technology to reach patients where they are. From patient apps to portals to online surveys, use the technology at your disposal to keep them engaged and connected.
  10. Ask for feedback. Consider online or real-time satisfaction surveys, as opposed to the standard paper survey. One hospital that deployed patient surveys as part of its online payment process captured feedback from more than 20% of patients—four times the average response rate.3

Above all, remember that you don’t have to take drastic steps to make your patients happier. Small changes can go a long way toward improving patient satisfaction, overall patient health, and your practice.

 

Quest can help you improve patient satisfaction

As an extension of your practice, Quest is committed to improving patient satisfaction—offering solutions and services to support both you and your patients.

Ensuring that your patients are educated about their own health, or about the tests you’re ordering, is key to boosting satisfaction (see tip #8). That’s why Quest offers Spotlight on Health newsletters, which provide educational, disease-specific, and test-related information for patients.

Quest can also help you reach your patients when and where they want to be reached (tip #9). The MyQuest™ Patient Portal and app allows you and your patients to share information, keeping you connected, while TestMinder® can help you keep patients with standing testing orders on schedule. Partnering with Quest can help you further your connection with patients—helping to improve not just patient satisfaction, but also patient health.

 

Share your patient satisfaction success story

What steps have you taken to improve patient satisfaction that have yielded positive results? We’d love to hear from you. Share your success story.


1. Gooch, K. Patients’ No. 1 complaint? Front-desk staff. Becker’s Hospital Review. 26 Apr 2016. Available at http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/hospital-management-administration/patients-no-1-complaint-front-desk-staff.html. Accessed February 24, 2017.
2. Advisory Board. Patients’ top complaint? It isn’t doctors or nurses, study finds. Available at https://www.advisory.com/daily-briefing/2016/04/28/top-patient-complaints. Accessed February 24, 2017.
3. Adractas J. Healthcare adopting survey cues from the retail world. MediaPost. 15 Mar 2016. Available at http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/271188/healthcare-adopting-survey-cues-from-the-retail-wo.html. Accessed February 24, 2017.