The internet has added a whole new dimension to outside factors affecting a patient’s choice of care providers. This is apparent by the fact that 82% of patients 50+ now go to the internet for information on their care. CMS, Healthgrades and a host of other sites have made patient experience scores widely available. Social media has enabled people to expand their influence far beyond family and friends. Because Americans will tell twice as many people about a bad experience than a good one (White House Office of Consumer Affairs), it is more important than ever for physicians and hospitals to ensure patients not only receive excellent treatment, but their perception equals reality.
There are eight things you can do today to ensure your patient experience scores are high:
- Realize you are in the ‘people’ business. Physicians and hospitals see their role as treating symptoms or illnesses, often losing sight of the person being treated. To ensure you provide the best care, consider what the person behind the treatment feels or needs.
- Involve the patient. Today’s healthcare model requires patients to take a greater role in their treatment. Make sure you thoroughly discuss the pros and cons of the various treatment options so the patient will make the most informed decision without second thoughts.
- Over communicate. Regardless of how effective or efficient the treatment is, if patients do not know what to expect they will remain concerned throughout the process. By keeping them informed at every step, you are providing the reassurance they need to feel good about their experience.
- Consider your audience. When communicating to patients, consider how your patients like to receive their information. Do you use email, telephone, or texts to remind patients of upcoming visits? Do you communicate with them between visits or provide educational materials? For some patients, there is nothing worse than to be given a pile of papers after an appointment. Most adults now prefer email or text messages, but you must ask to be sure.
- Encourage questions. The best patients are actively engaged in their own care. Questions are the best way to gauge a patient’s level of understanding, and fill any gaps that may be present.
- Look at all feedback as positive. According to “Understanding Customers” by Ruby Newell-Legner, only 4% of dissatisfied customers will voice their opinion while 91% will not come back. It is invaluable to uncover negative issues in your practice, so you can remedy the situation and keep more of your patients.
- Coordinate services and visits. Whenever possible, combine visits or coordinate treatment to eliminate unnecessary visits. Patients and care givers are busy, and may be required to take off work for each appointment. Those with high deductibles or co-payments will look favorably on providers that help to lower their out-of-pocket expenses.
- Work to get patients home sooner. The longer a patient stays in the hospital or a rehabilitation facility, the less satisfied they will be with their treatment. Programs with lower lengths of stay typically have higher scores.
Contact us today if you would like to discuss improving your patient experience with our experts.