The value of patient satisfaction for your healthcare practice should never be underestimated. Studies into the effects of overall patient experience have found that higher levels of satisfaction result in increased retention and loyalty of patients. By extension, this leads to consistency in repeat visits and treatments, and better ROI from individuals.
Patient satisfaction is a proven driver of profitability, with research suggesting that dissatisfaction can actually lead to massive losses. Over the lifespan of your healthcare business, the loss of revenue created as a direct result of poor patient satisfaction can total more than $200,000. Hits to revenue occur simply because dissatisfied patients are not likely to return, or at least not as frequently as satisfied patients.
Satisfied patients are also happier, which in turn boosts the morale of staff members and practitioners who work with them. Happiness in the workplace has proven to produce a more productive and effective environment — yet another driver of profitability.
Finding Ideas to Improve Patient Satisfaction That Actually Work
Superior patient satisfaction is going to support your healthcare business. It is going to enable growth and expansion. It is going to enable a brighter future for your organization. But how do you achieve this goal? Before you start developing strategies and ideas to improve patient satisfaction, it is important you remember three things:
- Patient Satisfaction Is Not a Baseline to Hit: Working towards better patient satisfaction is not like working towards a measurable metric such as increasing profitability by 5%. It isn’t about meeting standards set by competitors either. Providing a better experience should always be a goal you are working towards; a constant target you are striving to achieve. In the ever-changing world of healthcare, where advancements and developments occur almost daily, there is always going to be a new way to offer your patients something more, and new ideas to improve patient satisfaction.
- Unique Challenges Require Unique Solutions: Below, we are going to present some effective ideas to improve patient satisfaction, boost client retention, and lead you down a path of greater profitability. It is important to note, though, that these ideas should be approached with an idea of unique execution. Every practice is different, with a different range of patients who experience different factors of satisfaction, often based on local community culture, geography, and expectations of your sector within the healthcare industry. It is imperative that when looking to maximize satisfaction levels, you optimize all aspects of a patient’s experience to fit with your particular roster of patients and consumers.
Getting Started: Proven Ideas to Improve Patient Satisfaction
- Invest in Appointment Reminders
People are forgetful. The average adult forgets three things a day, and as many as 50% of healthcare appointments are missed, with the primary cause being that patients simply forget they have a scheduled session. Missed appointments can be a severe profit drain on a healthcare practice, but they can also be concerning for patients. If a patient fails to attend their appointment because they’ve simply forgotten, it can be a distressing experience for them. Not only might they incur a no-show fee, but they’ve also lost an opportunity to progress with their treatment, which may have a significant impact on their lifestyle.
Appointment reminders can offer a solution to no-shows, with services such as those offered by ReminderCall.com having proven to increase attendance rates by up to 36%. By providing your patients with an effective method of remembering their appointments, you can increase satisfaction levels by eliminating the stress factors involved with missed sessions.
You essentially inject a new level of trust into your service; a trust you give your patients, letting them know that you will support them in making it to their appointments. This kind of trust can be an important part of creating any satisfactory patient relationship, which is why the introduction of this tool can be so beneficial for your healthcare organization.
- Go the Extra Mile
Positive patient experiences can often be about getting more than the person bargained for. If you can make your patient feel like you are going above and beyond to ensure they are well taken care of, you are more likely to achieve better patient satisfaction. But what ideas can you implement to not only improve patient satisfaction but to go the extra mile?
- Keep Your Patient Informed: A study has revealed that patients were far more satisfied with their care coordination when they were offered clear information about treatments and services through one-on-one conversations; information that was provided in a manner that took the time to cover all their questions and concerns. Taking proper time for all patient communication has a clear benefit in the improvement of satisfaction levels. Techniques for improving patient information available include running podcasts, providing resources like FAQs on your website, writing explanatory blogs and even going on local radio stations — this also gives patients an opportunity to call in and ask questions. Be sure to advertise the availability of such information in locations your patients will see to create awareness, such as on social media, online via your website and in your practice.
- Go Outside the Job Description: An incident that occurred in the UK highlights the perfect example of going the extra mile in terms of patient care. A nurse was awarded for his efforts in helping a patient with tasks outside his designated role. This included coming in after hours, using his own time to learn more about their disease, and even bringing in the patient’s dog. This is an extreme example, but it does showcase the power of thinking more about how you can improve the quality of life of your patients over just the treatments and services you directly offer.
- Keep up with Modernization
In 2019, people have certain expectations of a service provider when it comes to modern conveniences. They expect things like easy digital contact, such as through emails. They also expect your healthcare organization to have a website that provides a strong supply of information, not just contact info and opening hours but pricing, details on services, etc.
But modernization shouldn’t stop there.
Targeted patient blogs are now something many medical practices offer, alongside quick diagnosis solutions such as telemedicine, advanced digital health record systems for ease of information access, and the incorporation of personal technology into treatment processes — like the use of FitBit medical data tracking. Appointment reminders, as mentioned above, are included in this drive towards modernization as well. Many of your customers will have received reminders from other services. If you don’t offer them, and they miss treatments as a result, you may end up shouldering some of the blame.
Failure to maintain a modern healthcare business puts you on the backfoot. Old-fashioned methods of operation do not meet the standards imposed by an often demanding consumer base. If you don’t meet expectations, satisfaction will drop, and patients will either find other places that meet their needs or just not come to you in the first place.
- Optimize Wait Times
It might seem obvious that waiting around is going to lead to dissatisfaction among patients, but studies and surveys have actually revealed that time is less of a factor than you might have first thought. Instead, it is the perception of time passed that causes the most problems. Patients are more likely to be dissatisfied, or satisfied, if they believed they have waited longer, or shorter, than necessary.
This means instead of focusing on getting patients in and out the door faster, which may in itself lead to dissatisfaction, you want to optimize your waiting experience through methods of decreasing the perception of time passing slowly. There are a few techniques you can employ to support this idea and improve patient satisfaction:
- Give Them Something to Do: Formal processes can shift focus away from thoughts of wait times and keep your patients within a mindset of practice activity. These include providing forms to fill out, such as updates on health, waivers, etc. Similar to pre-appointment conversions, patients feel engaged in their treatment, despite not actually yet being directly involved in it.
- Provide Enrichment: Basic enrichment is important for keeping your patients occupied during their time in a waiting room. Even distractions as simple as TV, magazines and books, information pamphlets on treatments, and toys for younger visitors, can play a vital role in improving satisfaction rates.
- Address Anxiety: Anxiety has been shown to cause the perception of time moving more slowly than those in a relaxed state. Therefore, patients who are more anxious about their treatment or upcoming sessions are going to feel like the waiting time is longer than it might actually be. Providing materials about sessions ahead of time, including what is involved and addressing potential concerns, can lower the impact of anxiety by reducing the unknown elements of treatment.