Patient Satisfaction: Everything You Need to Know to Better Understand Your Patients

Jun 21, 2022

Healthcare Marketing Strategy & TIps

Patient Satisfaction: Everything You Need to Know to Better Understand Your Patients

Present-day patients are ever-demanding and conscious of their healthcare needs. With an ocean of practices to choose from, the technology-driven healthcare market has become increasingly competitive. Patient satisfaction is a crucial factor that affects a prospect’s choice of doctors and clinics. From appointment bookings to follow-up visits, every new encounter with the patient is a fresh opportunity to deliver greater patient satisfaction.

In layman’s terms, patient satisfaction is the level to which your patients are pleased with your healthcare practice. It is a common indicator of the quality of patient care and the level of empathy expressed by the doctors and their staff. As the healthcare industry moves towards a patient-centric model, practitioners need to adjust their strategies to align their service with the patient’s demands. 

Why Is Patient Satisfaction Important?

Improving patient satisfaction has become one of the primary goals for most healthcare professionals. The reason is simple- patient satisfaction level is directly linked to the success rate of hospitals and individual healthcare practitioners. Analyzing the needs of patients is an essential first step; from there, it can be a tough task to recognize what changes will harvest the best results. 

This is where knowing how satisfied your patients are with your practice can make a key difference. Several online review platforms can be used to track patient experience and improve it. If your ratings are high and reviews are mostly positive, you can leverage the same to attract more patients to your practice. Any negative review demands immediate attention as feedback from even one disgruntled patient can inaccurately portray your practice.

Here’s how improving patient satisfaction level can benefit your practice:

1. Promotes Greater Patient Loyalty

A satisfied patient is more likely to stay loyal to their doctor and will not switch without a genuine reason. Considering that a patient’s lifetime health spending is worth about $1.4 million per individual or $4.2 million per family, keeping your current patients happy and building a long-term relationship with them based on quality care and trust is advisable.

2. Helps Attract New Patients

A satisfied patient will help you attract new patient to your clinic. Prospective patients weigh in the recommendations of their family and friends while choosing a healthcare practice. Happy & satisfied patients are more likely to recommend your practice to others in their social circle. Besides, online reviews and ratings act as social proof of the credibility and quality of your healthcare practice, drawing in more patients.

3. Ensure Better Charges And Reduced Risk of Litigation

Medical treatment in today’s age incurs heavy financial charges. However, if the treatment is up to the mark, patients are ready to pay the amount without hesitation.

Moreover, happy patients are less likely to sue your healthcare practice in the event of an unsatisfactory scenarios which can happen anytime.

4. Facilitates Financial Success

Numerous factors that affect your returns are linked to patient satisfaction. This includes patient growth, physician bonus, successful partnership, patient retention, etc. Patient experience and ROI are directly related, with positive patient experience resulting in higher profit margins for your practice and vice versa. 

What Are the Key Factors That Determine Patient Satisfaction?

Interestingly, patient satisfaction may not always be directly linked to the doctor’s competence or the treatment outcome. Instead, it is more about how the patient ‘feels’ about your practice and whether they have received the expected care. 

The following are a few key factors that affect the patient satisfaction levels:

1. Severity of illness:

Patients in need of immediate medical attention tend to be more satisfied with their doctors than those with less urgent needs. This may be because of a sense of gratitude for the prompt services received than any actual difference in the kind of treatment provided.

2. Tests/ medical interventions required

The greater the frequency of tests and medical interventions, the more satisfied a patient is likely to be. In general, higher care costs result in greater patient satisfaction.

3. Patient expectation

Knowing what your patients expect from your practice can help you align your services with the patients’ demands. Often they may be seeking your advice or information on a health-related concern instead of a specific action.

4. Ease of communication

The easier it is for your patients to communicate with you, the more likely they will be satisfied with your practice. Patients should be encouraged to share their opinions, ideas, and expectations to facilitate quality care. 

5. Time spent on care

Undoubtedly, the longer you serve your patients, the more satisfied they will be with your practice. Yet, the kind of care provided matters more than the time spent, which is why providing quality care should be your priority.

How Can You Monitor & Measure Patient Satisfaction?

While disgruntled patients are likely to post exaggerated negative reviews about your practice, measuring and quantifying patient satisfaction levels can help improve your services. This is even more important in the present-day competitive healthcare market, where every other practitioner is making similar claims about providing best-in-class patient care.

Here are three ways in which you can measure patient satisfaction in healthcare and gain objective insights into how patients ‘feel’ about your practice:

1. Gather feedback & complaints from patients:

All healthcare practices must be open to patient feedback, regardless of whether they truly depict the actual patient experience. This way, you can let both existing and prospective patients know that you value their voice and are keen to address their concerns promptly. Make sure that you actively reach out to your patients after every encounter and gather specific feedback and complaints. You can either have a forum on your website, hold regular in-person meetings or simply place a ‘patient feedback’ box in your reception area.

2. Look at the online ratings and reviews of your practice:

It is crucial to monitor your online ratings and reviews and identify pain points that may negatively affect your patients’ satisfaction levels. Google, Yelp, and WebMD are three of the most popular review sites used by patients while checking out healthcare practices. A quick online search for your practice will deliver results from multiple review sites. Though such reviews and scores may give you some idea of how satisfied your patients are with your practice, they may not necessarily equate to the quality of patient care. So, be mindful not to consider the scores designated by the review sites as the ultimate measure of your practice’s success.

3. Release patient satisfaction survey

The best way to measure patient satisfaction is to use a self-designed survey. This way, you can better understand what patients expect from your healthcare practice and how their care journey has been so far. Moreover, you can ensure 100% transparency and get untainted results, free from any third-party bias.

However, to make the most of your patient satisfaction survey, consider the following factors while designing it.

  • Choose the mode and time of survey based on the patient’s availability—such as via email or questions asked after every appointment
  • Keep the questions brief, clear and consistent, without using any medical jargon to avoid confusing the patients
  • Use open-ended questions to capture more subjective responses 
  • Make your survey accessible and inclusive to get information from patients of diverse ethnicity, age groups, etc.

How Can You Improve Patient Satisfaction for Your Practice & Hospital?

Providing genuine and quality patient care is perhaps the easiest way to improve patient satisfaction. Nonetheless, you need to get into the minds of your patients and think as they think. Some important questions pertaining to your patients may include: 

  • What kind of care are they expecting? 
  • What do they value in healthcare?
  • What do they like or dislike about your practice?

Keeping these questions in mind, here are a few patient satisfaction tips that can help enhance their experience with your practice:

1. Use the patient’s name 

Calling your patient by their names gives a sense of connection and personalizes the interaction. They become more than just a number on your list and value the genuine care expressed for them as an individual. You may even consider wearing a name tag so that they can address you by name, thus solidifying mutual trust and respect.

2. Listen carefully

It is important to listen attentively to your patients without judging them or forming an immediate opinion. Listening carefully to your patients’ concerns can help you deliver high-quality services that exceed their expectations. Make sure to face the patient and maintain good amount of eye contact throughout the interaction. Keep an open mind and ask questions even if you have heard similar concerns before. Allow the patient to complete their sentences instead of jumping midway and talking them over.

3. Educate your patients

The more time you spend educating your patients on their condition, the better equipped they will be to respond positively to their treatment. Hand out written summaries, educational materials and instructions that the patients can refer to in case they feel confused or doubtful about the treatment. You can even have one-on-one meetings to address their fears in person and ease their worries.

4. Make sure your practice is clean & hygienic

A patient’s perception of your hospital’s cleanliness can significantly affect their overall experience. Besides protecting them from catching dangerous infections and diseases, keeping your hospital clean will ensure that the bacteria and germs do not spread to visitors and the general community. 

5. Stick to a standard dress code

Something as simple as how your staff dresses can affect a patient’s perception of your practice. A standardized dress code makes you look professional, improves staff-patient interaction, builds their trust in your services, and ensures greater patient satisfaction.

6. Follow up with patients

Patients look forward to communicating with their doctors in between appointments. Ensuring seamless patient engagement even beyond the walls of your practice is key to achieving greater patient satisfaction. Technology can be a great way to stay connected with your patients, be it through automated reminders regarding their appointments or by sending them relevant articles or information regarding your practice.

7. Reduce wait times

Longer wait times are one of the top-most reasons patients leave their doctors. Moreover, patients who wait longer are less likely to receive appropriate care. Calling your patients and letting them know in advance of potential delays will allow them to reschedule their appointments accordingly. You can even let them self-schedule, block a time for same-day appointments or designate walk-in-hours where they may visit your practice and get the required care. 

You can reduce wait times for patients with urgent medical needs by allocating similar patients to a dedicated staff or having primary care physicians take care of such emergencies.

Keep Your Patients Happy with Healthcare DMS!

While ensuring that your patients are happy and satisfied is critical for your practice’s success, achieving it alone may not be an easy feat. At Healthcare DMS, our experts are well-equipped to provide best-in-class healthcare SEO services  that will boost your practice’s growth and patient retention through carefully crafted digital marketing solutions. We will identify pain points that are bothering your patients and work on proactively managing your online reputation, so that prospective patients can see your healthcare practice for what it truly is. Partner with us to achieve greater patient satisfaction and build a loyal patient base.