As patients are increasingly taking an active role in their health, it has become crucial for doctors and clinics to provide them with modern tools to help them do so. From recommending specific health monitoring apps to incorporating tools that augment their experience within your practice, a patient-centric focus leads to better satisfaction rates.
The Patient Experience
It’s no secret that putting the patient at the center of their own health improves outcomes and continuity of care. By providing them with resources to better educate themselves and a means to access their records and lab results, physicians can empower their patients.
The patient experience includes interactions patients have with their healthcare professionals and health plans. It encompasses aspects such as:
- Quality of care received
- Access to information
- Timing of appointments
- Ease of communication
Evaluating a patient’s overall experience is the key to providing quality care that supports the effectiveness and safety of care received. That being said, how can physicians and practices measure patient satisfaction in ways that are meaningful to both them and their patients?
Important Questions to Ask Patients
It’s one thing to implement a strategy and process that captures patient satisfaction rates, but one must keep in mind that the ultimate goal is to reach a level of optimal patient experience.
In order to do so, practices need to ask the right questions:
- How quickly did you schedule an appointment with your provider?
This can be a two-sided question as it can encompass the means by which they were able to schedule their appointment and the time they waited in the practice. Did they have to wait on the phone or were they able to schedule online using a booking tool? Did they have to wait an excessive amount of time in the waiting room?
This is an important question to ask as waiting room time has a direct effect on patient satisfaction rates. It’s a great way to assess your practice’s care accessibility. An efficient workflow for both provider and patient usually consists of no more than twenty-minute waiting periods.
- How easy was it to schedule an appointment with us?
If this is a cause for concern, you can go ahead and explicitly ask the question rather than having it encompassed within the previous question. If patients consistently have negative feedback concerning scheduling, then you might have to reevaluate your booking processes. This might be done through hiring additional staff to answer the phone or integrating an online booking software.
- How would you appraise the quality of care you received by your doctor?
This is a great way to identify if your patients are feeling rushed and if your doctors are providing respectful, timely care and are spending appropriate time with their patients.
Sometimes, patients view the quality of care they receive beyond the care given by their providers. Within this category, patients often include the tools at their disposition and the educational material they are given. This question can highlight resources or tools you might want to incorporate in your offering in order to boost satisfaction rates.
- Would you recommend our practice to family and friends?
If your patients wouldn’t recommend your practice to their loved ones, they are clearly unsatisfied and might be willing to jump ship themselves. On the other hand, if they would highly recommend you, then you are clearly hitting high satisfaction rates overall!
The first step is ensuring your current patient base is satisfied with your facility. Only then should you move on to promoting personal referrals and growing your clientele.
- Now that you know what to ask, what are the best ways or tools to get your patients to answer your questions?
Getting Them to Respond
Once you know the feedback you want to receive, the next step is finding the best means to receive it. The quickest and easiest way to implement a strategy for capturing patient satisfaction rates for both practices and patients are surveys. They are simple to set up and relatively straightforward, whether you choose to administer them electronically or on paper.
In order to get the highest reach and participation rates, there are certain guidelines to follow:
- Make it easy to answer
- Educate patients
- Implement follow-ups
It’s important for patients to have a convenient way of filling out the survey for them to participate and respond. This could mean allowing them to fill it out at home or on their own time rather than needing to stay in the practice in order to do so. Electronic surveys also tend to have a higher participation rate as patients can conveniently answer them from any device at any time and practices can receive the answers quickly and in a concise, legible manner.
Educating patients on the reason behind the survey and how the collection of answers will benefit them in the long run will also boost participation rates. Another means could be tying the survey with current health plans such as making them a part of a patient’s chronic care plan or even post-hospitalization care. However, this would require more frequent surveys for these patients to monitor any changes.
Lastly, it is important to follow through with the benefits you promise patients when filling out the surveys. Ensure staff follow up with patients, especially ones that complete unfavorable surveys. It demonstrates effort and purpose on the practice’s part and patients don’t feel like they wasted their time filling it out. It will also likely lead to them filling out your next survey!
Overall, it is important to ask the right questions, entice patients to fill out your survey and then act on the responses. Implement strategies or update processes for things that might not be working for your patients and always ensure your survey is convenient, has obvious health benefits and results in meaningful follow-ups.