With more healthcare costs being shifted to consumers, they are expecting more from their providers. A physician that doesn’t pay attention to patient happiness may lose patients or receive lower satisfaction scores, both of which can cost a practice money.
A recent survey by West, a healthcare communications company, identified that 25% of patients do not have a strong sense their provider cares about them as an individual and one in five respondents is not entirely convinced their provider is focused on improving their health.
“It’s that kind of dissatisfaction that is driving more consumer-like behaviors in healthcare,” says Allison Hart, chief market research and insights strategist for West. “More than three in four told us they have freedom of choice for healthcare providers where they may not have seen that as much before. Now, they are looking at a value decision and are not going to go to a setting where healthcare providers are not meeting their expectations.”
The survey shows consumers are not afraid to leave an established relationship with a physician, with nine in 10 saying they will change providers if not completely satisfied, and 74% indicating they will put off scheduling an appointment or otherwise delaying care when they aren’t satisfied with their provider.
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“This can have a financial impact on providers, especially as payment models are tied more to satisfaction scores,” says Hart. “The financial stakes are high if patients aren’t satisfied or are switching to another provider.”
How to increase patient satisfaction
While some physicians may understand that patient satisfaction is playing a growing role in their compensation and success of their practice, the survey shows a disconnect. “The things providers are doing are not necessarily what’s important to drive satisfaction,” says Hart.