With all the guidelines and regulations the healthcare industry has to adhere to, it can be difficult to remember that patient satisfaction is crucial to the success of a practice. Patients value a good relationship with their doctors and want their interactions to be cordial yet informative. Whether you’ve just recently started focusing on patient satisfaction or have been working toward this goal for some time, these tips can help improve your patient’s overall experience.

1. Communicate Effectively

Communication with the staff of your practice can make or break a patient’s experience. The small details from the moment the patient fills out paperwork, to the general health screening with the nurse will help the physician know as much as possible before seeing the patient. However, information that is relayed quickly because of shortage of time or because a staff member took brief, undetailed notes can lead to a frustrated patient.

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One important aspect of communication is the ability to listen. Patients want to know that you are taking the time to fully understand what is going on before you disclose a diagnosis. Understanding more about the patient on a broader level shows respect, interest and allows for a more comfortable environment.

In addition, effective communication will likely motivate the patient to follow directions received from the physician. When giving instructions to a patient, take the time to thoroughly walk through the medications and at-home treatments so they understand exactly what their role is in the course of treatment.

The single most important criterion by which patients judge you as a physician is the way you interact with them. Improved communication not only benefits the patient but also increases satisfaction in your work, renews motivation and boosts productivity.

2. Be Compassionate

Once your patient opens up about their condition, it is important to show compassion toward the situation at hand. Visible concern will help build trust with the patient, which is essential for a positive experience. Once a patient describes how they’re feeling, reply with empathetic answers so they are aware that you recognize what they are going through.

One unique way to show compassion in healthcare is to follow-up with patients. As you are fully aware, physicians live busy lives and often do not have time to proactively check on all of their patients. However, if you want to keep your patients satisfied, consider those that stand out from the rest. For example, you may have a patient who has been coming to you for years, but has recently received a troubling diagnosis; it could be comforting for them to know that you took the time to check on them a few days after their appointment. Or consider a new patient you recently met with, showing you truly appreciate their business and wanted to confirm they’re satisfied with the services they received can be a way to set yourself apart.

3. Be Timely

Wait time is the leading source of patient frustration during their appointments. These delays can be less detrimental if the entire office works as a team to ensure the patient is updated. An alert that the doctor is running behind schedule, an apology for the inconvenience and frequent updates regarding the wait time can set patient frustration at ease.

Nothing can be more frustrating to a patient during their appointment than if their doctor appears rushed. Physicians tend to not realize that something as simple as looking at their watch or talking with their hand on the doorknob gives patients a negative impression. These gestures show that you are on a time crunch and can make the patient feel unimportant. Even if you are rushed, take your time to make sure your patient is completely satisfied before you move on to your next appointment.

4. Provide a Welcoming Environment

Keeping the office sanitary and safe is essential, but greeting patients with a warm welcome is just as significant. Hospitality, food quality (if applicable) and décor are simple elements that patients pay attention to while sitting in the waiting room. You’d be surprised how a friendly greeting from the receptionist and a nice conversation with the nurse can go a long way with your patients.

While these tips will help you improve your patient satisfaction, sometimes patients are difficult to please, even with quality healthcare. All that matters is you are doing your best to provide every single patient with a better experience, help them achieve better outcomes, and benefit you at the same time. Are you taking the necessary steps in your practice to ensure your patients are receiving the quality of care you would expect for yourself?

References:
  • http://www.aafp.org/fpm/1999/0500/p23.html
  • http://www.physicianspractice.com/blog/seven-ways-improve-patient-satisfaction-survey-scores
  • http://www.physicianspractice.com/blog/six-easy-ways-improve-patient-satisfaction