When hospitals focus on improving patient care, it will result in improving the overall objective of achieving a high degree of satisfaction. The benefit of improving patient satisfaction is far beyond quality scores. To build a strong patient-provider relationship, it is essential to have improved Patient Satisfaction, which can also have a positive impact on your patient’s health.
Chances are high that satisfied patients will opt for follow-up appointments with your hospital and stick to the recommended treatment plan. It will ultimately lead to more positive outcomes. If the patients are happy, they are also going to recommend your services to their friends and family.
Best Ways to Improve Patient Satisfaction
1. Easy Appointment Booking
Making the appointment booking process easy can improve the patient satisfaction process to a great extent. It is important to guide your patients thoroughly before heading for a surgical or a more complicated procedure. Keep in mind, a treatment that is routine for you might confuse and terrify them.
Improving overall patient satisfaction begins by simply creating a simple and convenient appointment booking process.
- Use online appointment management system: Implement an appointment booking software that permits patients to make appointments in every way possible, whether it is a phone, email, SMS, or online. Make sure the software is simple to use and looks professional.
- Professional customer support team: Make sure the customer support reps are available to answer customer queries throughout the entire day. The team needs to be prompt and should not keep your patients on hold unnecessary.
- Send automatic reminders: Once a patient has booked their appointment, the software should send automatic reminders in advance with proper directions to reach your healthcare centre. It will also give an option to patients to reschedule their appointment or even ask any questions related to it.
2. Shorter Wait Time
When your patient arrives as per the scheduled appointment, the front desk staff should not only welcome them with a friendly face but also help them check-in quickly. They should be informed about the estimated wait time and directed towards a waiting area. Try not to keep your patients wait longer than expected. In case of appointment cancellation, be sure to inform patients about the situation with an updated date and time. Reducing perceived wait time will definitely result into better patient satisfaction.
Healthcare organizations must work to address longer wait times, especially as patients – who are spending more of their money for medical treatment – are becoming more selective about their providers.
- Provide explanations for long waits: Explained waits are much shorter than the unexplained waits, so it’s always advisable to keep your patients in the loop if an emergency arises or appointment runs longer than expected.
- Create a comfortable waiting area: You can make your patients stay more pleasant if there are comfortable seating and decorations in the waiting area. When they are more relaxed, they will not feel like they have been waiting for long.
- Reassure patients who appear anxious: Front desk staff can offer support, if patients look nervous or uncomfortable. Wait times can be frustrating and it can make the patients wait long regarding their appointment or procedure.
- Provide entertainment or activities: To keep your patients occupied, give them different things such as books, magazines, or television. Asking them to fill out forms during the wait time can help in reducing the perceived wait time.
- Provide valuable service during the appointment: Another solution to reduce perceived wait time is by offering a remarkable service when the patient sees the physician. High-quality treatment will be worth the wait.
3. Positive Interactions with Doctors and Staff
One of the most important factors which can influence patient satisfaction is the quality of patient's interactions with doctors and staff members. It implies that even if exceptional care is provided, patients might experience low satisfaction if their interactions with doctors were not positive. Luckily, doctors play a vital role in improving satisfaction levels by complying with simple guidelines for better customer support and more compassionate care.
While administering care, always inform your patients about what you are doing throughout the procedure.
- Be clear and direct: Give your patients the clear instructions during their visit. Inform them about the do's and dont's of the procedure.
- Answer questions: Ask direct questions from patients regarding their treatment and offer them an option to give comprehensive answers. Take sufficient time to ensure that your patients fully understand the treatment before moving on to the next appointment.
- Initiate interactions: Staff of the hospital should go out of their way to engage with patients. They should make every possible way to create positive interactions by greeting with a smile when they arrive and assist those who seem confused or lost.
- Stay in character: Staff and doctors should make sure that they should avoid making conversations regarding their weekend plans or a new television show they like. They should focus on their primary character as a care provider and help to sort out the patient’s problems.
4. Convenient and Straightforward Payments
Even if a patient has received excellent care and enjoyed their visit, a complicated billing process can result in dissatisfaction in patients. Frustration can happen if they are getting late bills, additional billing charges they didn’t expect, bills with errors, which might be difficult for them to pay. If queries remain unanswered regarding a bill, then it can make them less likely to pay it.
To prevent the billing process from tarnishing patient's experiences, healthcare providers must focus on providing personalized communication and multiple payment options.
- Educate Staff to Answer Billing Queries: When a patient gets in touch with the healthcare staff regarding their bill, an individual should be there to address their queries. Instruct your office staff in such a way that they should be able to address all patient queries, which can be related to charges, payment options, and other general billing questions.
- Strive for Price Transparency: The main reason behind patient frustration is imposing additional charges on the medical bills. Getting price transparency can empower patients to make wise decisions about their treatment and help in the reduction of additional costs. The same data should also be available on the website which can help in preparing the medical expenses. With the help of these tools, payment plans can help patients to choose affordable quality care.
- Simplify the Billing Process: When the billing process is simple for your patients, the probability is high that they will pay the bills on time. Online billing services will allow you to track payments accurately and send bills more efficiently. Another important aspect of offering a streamlined billing procedure is to make sure there won’t be any errors in the billing.
5. Track Your Progress and Reward Success
The best way to keep track of your patient satisfaction is with the help of Patient Satisfaction Surveys who will measure the quality of their interactions with hospital staff and doctors. The staff members will excel and resolve all the issues.
Conducting Surveys on frequent intervals will allow healthcare providers to learn if they are meeting their requirements or if they are lacking in any area.
- Use Patient Satisfaction Surveys: Patient experience of care is determined by a patient satisfaction survey and other term can be used for it is Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey. It consists of 8 factors of hospital quality, some of them consists of the quality of interaction with nurses and medical professionals, how receptive the hospital staff was, and if the patient were treated with courtesy and respect.
It doesn’t take much to improve Patient Satisfaction. Simple changes in behavior such as making a smile, keeping the patients updated on prolonged wait times, and effectively establishing expectations can do marvels for overall Patient Satisfaction.