Don't get me wrong—I am a big believer in the power of a simple smile to make a huge difference in patient satisfaction (and science backs me up!). Visiting an office where the staff is friendly and caring is universally important to patients. That being said, patient satisfaction is not always quite that simple. In addition to cultivating a practice where patients feel cared about, it’s also important to recognize that your systems are often as important as smiles. The right systems create efficiencies in the office, motivate patients to get involved in their own care, and improve health.
Here are the five reasons patient satisfaction is about systems as much as smiles:
1. Poor systems lead to long wait times. Long wait times is the #1 cause of dissatisfaction among patients (you can read all about that in this blog post). These wait times can be significantly lowered by improving the systems you uses for scheduling, filling last minute cancellations, and patient communication.
2. Poor systems reduce care adherence. Patients are busy! They need extra support from their healthcare practices in order to keep track of their doctor's instructions. Successful systems will help enable practices to do just that. They will also make it easy for practices to send out educational information and keep patients on track.
3. Poor systems lead to worse health outcomes. In addition to a lack of proper care adherence, poor systems often lead to missed appointments. Preventative care is a crucial part of great health outcomes for patients. Patients with poor health outcomes are statistically less likely to rate their provider well...even if it was not the provider's fault! The right systems can help you send out reminders and recall messages to get patients in the office on time.
4. Poor systems lead to a lack of communication in the office. Did you know that poor intra-office communication is the root cause of 66 percent of all medical errors? Unfortunately, the vast majority of offices do not have systems in place to communicate easily and efficiently with one another. Poor communication leads to mistakes which lead to unhappy patients.
5. Poor systems result in forgotten appointments. Everyone hates when a patient doesn't show up. It puts the practice behind, causes a loss in revenue, and makes for irritated patients in the waiting room. The right systems can help automate appointment reminders to come the way patients want and are most likely to see. They can also be sent at different time intervals and as often as necessary to ensure your patients get into the office before their scheduled appointment.
Healthcare practices across all specialties have understood the importance of patient satisfaction for ages. But while the focus on patient satisfaction is not new, what IS different is the huge role systems can have on today's modern patients. By focusing on both system AND smiles, practices will be sure to create a place where patients love to be!
For more insider tips to patient satisfaction, read how to "Discover the Secret Sauce of Patient Satisfaction."