What do patients value most in a physician? Doctors may think the answer is “a perfect bedside manner” or “exact treatment plans that improve outcomes.” While these are certainly traits that patients desire, it turns out that patients are also interested in more than compassion and clinical expertise.
As patients take on greater financial responsibility for managing their care, their expectations are shifting. Today, practices are expected to offer more personalized services. Patients crave experiences tailored to their preferences, in much the same way that modern financial institutions offer mobile check deposit. They want a physician who is engaged in their healthcare, understanding of their busy lifestyles and easy to reach.
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According to the 2017 Patient-Provider Relationship Study, which is based on a survey of nearly 2,100 patients ages 21 to 70, all patients want four key things from their physicians:
1. Greater connectivity;
2. Online tools;
3. Convenience (via text); and
4. More time with their doctors.
Given that the study also shows that an average of one in three patients is switching physicians, striving to meet patients’ ideals is not just a noble endeavor — it’s a necessary one. Taking a closer look at each of these four key factors can give practices a better understanding of the most effective ways to improve patient satisfaction and loyalty.
Few things are as frustrating for patients as not being able to reach a physician when they need medical attention. As the Patient-Provider Relationship Study notes, this is especially true for millennials, whose preference for convenience is expected to further disrupt the traditional healthcare system.
One way to improve connectivity is to leverage mobile apps that let patients communicate with practice staff, or make appointments, or pay bills. Asking and answering simple questions through a HIPAA-compliant app streamlines communication and can have a positive effect on the patient experience. The same holds true for letting patients schedule or change their own appointments via mobile app — without having to call the practice. Such connectivity both empowers patients and creates in-office efficiency.