Why Patient Feedback Matters to Independent Medical Practices
It is estimated that the loss of one patient due to dissatisfaction, can result in the loss of over $200,000 in income over the lifetime of a practice. That’s a hefty price to pay for poor patient experiences, not to mention the damage it does to the reputation of your practice.
Healthcare is competitive. You have to work hard to get your patients, but you also have to work hard to keep them. This is where patient feedback comes in. Patient feedback is so much more than a quality assurance form; it’s your patients perception of your practice, which is a crucial element of your success. In fact, patient perception should be the gold standard you strive to meet (or exceed) in every aspect of your practice. It should be used to design quality improvement outcomes.
In short, strive to improve the patient experience in order to achieve excellence in patient care.
What Is Patient Satisfaction?
There isn’t one accepted definition of patient satisfaction. However, it’s always synonymous with the patient experience. In the simplest of terms, it is how well the patient feels about being treated by you, which isn’t always linked to your understanding of disease processes, prescriptions, or other treatments.
Patient satisfaction requires a careful mixture of clinical judgment and emotional connection. Physicians obviously want to provide the highest level of clinical reason and treatment, but patients want emotional engagement as well. They want care, connection, transparency, and empathy, all of which takes part in overall patient satisfaction.
Patient satisfaction is crucial because it measures the quality of care received, which affects clinical outcomes, patient retention, and medical malpractice claims. It measures the success of physicians and their practices.
Why Patient Feedback Matters to Your Practice
The first thing to remember is that satisfied patients do give feedback. The ease of receiving and responding to satisfaction surveys has increased the percentage of patients that complete them.This means the days when only dissatisfied patients respond to surveys are long gone.
The benefits of happy patients and positive feedback are truly endless, but let’s go over a few of the most prominent.
1. Happy patients are loyal patients. Most patients don’t like doctor hopping. They want to find one doctor they trust and stick with them. Once they find a doctor who invests time into the doctor-patient relationship, they will stay in that practice.
2. Happy patients tell others. It’s estimated that one satisfied patient will tell four others about their experience. This is the possibility of four new patients. However, the power of social media can have a far greater reach.
Patient satisfaction comes back to you in more than survey form. A satisfied patient can quickly become a yelp reviewer, Facebook video poster, or the author of a viral tweet. When new patients are searching for a provider, they read these reviews and take these comments into consideration.
The reverse is true as well. A dissatisfied patient will tell an estimated 9 to 10 others about their poor experience. This makes it twice as important to improve patient experience to receive positive patient feedback.
Dissatisfied patients are not just a number on the “may leave” patient roster. They carry a hefty financial impact. Poor patient experience has also been linked to an increase in medical malpractice risk. When you put a dollar figure on every dissatisfied patient, it provides clarity to the importance of improving patient satisfaction.
3. Happy patients have better outcomes. Happy patients are collaborative patients. They speak openly about their problems and make sure you have all the information you need to provide them with the best care possible. They follow instructions and report new symptoms or complications to you.
According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), patient experience positively correlates to processes of care for both disease prevention and disease management. For example, diabetic patients report greater self-management skills and quality of life when they have positive interactions with their physician.
AHRQ also reports that the ability to communicate with their provider increases patients adherence to advice and treatment plans. Open communication with you can equate to better control of chronic disease processes. Patients want to work with you to achieve better outcomes, and better outcomes mean positive feedback.
4. Happy patients make happy doctors. Your work provides a sense of satisfaction, achievement, and general well-being. Receiving a constant flow of poor patient feedback will lead to immediate and possibly long-lasting implications to your job satisfaction. One study found that physician well-being can even contribute to better treatment and more positive experiences for their patients.
Putting Feedback to Good Use
It is important to understand that collecting patient feedback is not a “one and done” project. You must collect it on a continuous basis, then use it.
Make it a habit to sit down on regular intervals to review the feedback. Here are few quick tips for using patient feedback in your practice:
- Review it privately. Give yourself time to review patient feedback and come up with a game plan for improvements.
- Share it with your team. Your staff are in important part of patient satisfaction. You must openly share with them the thoughts of your patients. If there is a recurring theme that Sally at the front desk is rude on the phone, address it with Sally in a positive way. Ask her is she needs further training. Offer more assistance to her during high volume times.
- Set quarterly goals. Once you know areas of weakness in your practice, set goals for your practice. Ask your team for help making the goals.
- Create a culture of patient-centered care. Patient-Centered Care is a big buzzword these days.
Make sure your patients hear that you want to know their opinions at least once at every visit. Explain how they will receive their survey, why it is important for them to complete it, and let them know who they can contact if they have any questions. Personally asking for their feedback not only makes them more likely to respond to the survey, but strengthens your patient-provider relationship as well.
In conclusion, it’s clear that positive patient experiences lead to better patient feedback and even better patient outcomes. What can you do to improve your practice’s patient satisfaction?
To learn about how Kareo can help streamline the patient engagement process and boost patient satisfaction: