To improve patient satisfaction in health care, it’s essential first to understand what it is. According to the American Psychological Association, patient satisfaction is the “observed satisfaction of the patients with their health-care services.” Therefore, a positive experience means more positive feedback, which implies more trust in your ability to provide health care.
Research reveals that over half of all healthcare providers only focus on improving patient satisfaction when they do it, not when they should. They also don’t take time to consider the “big picture” by thinking about more significant issues, such as whether or not they’re providing a high-quality service or improving the environment in which they work, or even whether they are using up-to-date technology. By contrast, people who look at more significant trends and issues in their healthcare settings can see and acknowledge problems more efficiently. Many healthcare providers turn to the Internet to get closer to the goal.
Improving patient satisfaction hinges on two primary objectives: improving the system itself and maintaining high patient satisfaction rates throughout the health system. Improving the system itself begins with ensuring that the primary care physician is knowledgeable, effective, and credible. The physician must be available, accessible, and friendly. Patients need to feel that they can talk to the primary care provider easily and openly about any health-related issues. The physician’s success is dependent on high patient satisfaction levels.
Enhancing the quality of the patient experience necessarily involves taking steps to reduce risks to the public’s health and safety. Careful implementation of EHR software is vital for ensuring that EHR software is compatible across all health care settings and that electronic data is safe and secure. Also, clinical servers must ensure that adequate safeguards are put in place to prevent patient records from being hacked into. Ensuring patient privacy also means working closely with patients, as well as their families. Implementing protective measures such as encrypted medical data minimizes the risks of patient identity theft.
In addition, healthcare professionals need to take their efforts to reduce wait times as seriously as improving system efficiency. Ineffective clinical logistics, less efficient emergency room staffing, and long wait times in hospitals can lead to lost revenue loss. Waiting time lengths need to be adjusted to provide an adequate level of medical care for the community. Additionally, other factors, such as workload strain and mismanagement, need to be addressed to improve patient outcomes.
Finally, improving the patient experience requires healthcare leaders to examine the value-based information provided by EHR and other CRM systems. Value-based information refers to the overall benefit derived from a patient visit. For example, a nurse might look at the physician’s documented outcomes to determine whether patients improve. If so, the nurse would then make changes in the caregiving environment based on that value-based information. Although healthcare workers may not constantly assess this directly, they certainly have several tools at their disposal. For example, different health plans can incorporate various facets of the patient experience, ranging from bedside manner to cleanliness to convenience to access to information.
In addition, other measures can be taken to improve communication and patient satisfaction, including ensuring appropriate staffing and addressing the issue of patient misdiagnosis. In this case, simply improving patient handling skills by having more doctors available when doctor availability is minimal can go a long way. Similarly, addressing misdiagnosis issues can go a long way toward improving the satisfaction score in clinical care. Improving the documentation provided by healthcare service providers can go a long way toward improving the quality of care provided to patients.
Although indeed, patient satisfaction can only be achieved through the actions of doctors and healthcare workers, these professionals can play a role in making the experience a more pleasant one for patients. Waiting rooms with a pleasant appearance, cleanliness, and staff with a friendly tone can go a long way toward creating a good experience. The same goes for hospitals that offer an attractive waiting room design and an environment that allows patients to interact. By addressing these issues, doctors and other medical staff members can ensure that patient satisfaction is a high priority in all healthcare settings.