The changing nature of healthcare has put increasing importance on building and developing patient provider relationships. Patients have many options when it comes to choosing a provider, even with limitations of accepted insurance plans and specialty of care. With a quick internet search, most patients can find multiple providers offering the care they need within a reasonable distance from their home or office. The ease with which patients can find providers has led healthcare to be a competitive industry. This means practices should focus on improving the experience in their office to ensure patients don’t choose another provider.
Today’s practices have a lot to gain by making sure patients are happy with their healthcare experience. Across all specialties, less than half of patients are completely satisfied with their provider. And it’s more than just the competency of the doctor or the level of care they receive that impacts their satisfaction. Additional factors like practice logistics, wait time, interactions with the staff, accessibility to the practice, communication, and ease of scheduling all play a part in how patients feel about their provider. With so many aspects involved in the patient experience, there are plenty of opportunities for practices to improve. Automated tools and other technologies can help by connecting healthcare organizations and patients in new ways that may improve the patient experience.
The Power of Patient Surveys
The first step towards managing patient satisfaction is to measure how your practice is perceived by existing patients. Customizable surveys are a powerful tool and can provide the feedback you need to fine tune the patient experience. The loss of one patient due to their dissatisfaction can lead to $200,000 in lost revenue over the lifetime of your practice, so it’s worth it to take the time to gauge how patients feel.
Automated tools can help you distribute surveys with minimal effort on your part. This can eliminate the administrative time spent mailing and reviewing each survey while still providing your practice with valuable data to analyze. Patient relationship management (PRM) software can automatically send an electronic survey to every patient after every appointment. This ensures every patient is given the opportunity to provide feedback and no one is overlooked. A software solution can also make it easy to ask questions to gain insight into specific areas of your practice.
For example, a post-appointment survey can focus on the pre-visit process. Patient satisfaction begins before the patient ever meets with the provider, so asking questions about the whole process can help you course-correct when needed, or see areas where you met or exceeded a patient’s expectations. Questions in these types of surveys could include:
- How easy was it to book an appointment?
- Rate the check-in process
- How long past your scheduled appointment time did you wait?
- How friendly was the staff?
Asking patients for feedback doesn’t have to be limited to post-appointment surveys. Some patient communication software allows you to segment your patients into groups so you can target communication. Creating groups of similar patients means you can tailor the questions based on traits common in the group, and provide insight on a subject the group cares about. You can gauge interest in new products or services, which can then help you choose investments in areas your patients have indicated interest. Patient groups can be created based on age, gender, diagnosis, or any other information you may have and find relevant when gathering feedback.
You can learn who your biggest advocates are and ask them to share their experience with others or post an online review. Surveys can also bring to focus patients who aren’t as satisfied with your practice, and provide the opportunity to connect and address any specific concerns they have.
Not only is the insight you gain from patient surveys valuable in improving your practice, but the act of reaching out to your patients has a high impact as well. When practices ask patients
for their opinions, and then actively work to incorporate that feedback into practice procedures, patients feel heard and valued. It demonstrates to patients that their provider wants to meet their healthcare needs in addition to exceeding their experience expectations.
Put the Information to Work
Of course, the biggest benefit you gain from conducting patient surveys is the ability to make changes that will help retain existing patients and attract new ones. You can’t know how patients feel about your practice until you measure it, and more importantly, you can’t improve patient satisfaction until you make changes based on the information you gather. It’s important to have an open mind when analyzing the data collected from patient surveys. If a patient took the time to complete a survey about your practice, give their responses careful consideration. You might be surprised to learn how well you’re doing in some areas, and you might discover you have room for improvement in an area you thought was running smoothly.
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