Best practices for figuring out what patients want from your practice.
Physician reimbursement is being increasingly impacted by patient satisfaction scores. Once, this was something only hospitals had to worry about, but now it’s affecting practices of all sizes.Unfortunately, getting those good scores is becoming harder. Patients are comparing their healthcare experience against the experiences they have in retail and the service sector. And, let’s face it, healthcare hasn’t been known for providing modern, super engaging, seamless experiences. Still, one study showed that about half of patients expect the same customer service experience in healthcare that they get in retail.This trend shows it’s more important than ever to be able to track and monitor patient satisfaction and take steps to make improvements to meet the changing expectations of patients. To effectively gauge what patients think and identify areas for improvement, here are best practices to follow:
1. Keep it simple
You can’t do anything about a pre-set CAHPS survey, but you can control the length and complexity of a patient survey you send out. It shouldn’t take more than five minutes to complete and should focus on a single topic, like their recent visit or changes you’ve made like new technology or services. Don’t try to do it all in one survey.
2. Be timely
For a post-visit patient survey, send it out within 24 to 48 hours. The sooner the better. You want to strike while patients remember their experience.
3. Get hard data
Avoid creating open-ended survey questions. It’s appropriate to have a spot at the end for additional comments, but you want to be able to easily analyze the data. Use multiple choice and yes or no questions. For example, don’t use, “Tell us what you thought of the wait time.” Instead, ask, “Was the wait time reasonable, yes or no.”
4. Go digital
Create and send your surveys electronically. People prefer online survey 30 times more than paper ones. Using a digital platform also allows you to automate the sending of surveys, personalize them to the patient, and easily see the results.
5. Problem areas to focus on
There are a few key areas where patients focus on when it comes to satisfaction. These include:
6. What to ask in the survey
Take the opportunity to ask if:
If scores are low for friendliness, then you know this is an area for improvement. If lots of patients say they’d like to get communication via text and you aren’t offering that, then you know that is something to change.
7. Make the changes
Take this simple feedback and make a list of areas to work on. Then you can begin to tackle improvements. Some tips to make that process more successful include:
8. Follow up
Make sure that as you implement changes and settle into new ways of doing things that you follow up to see what patients think. Surveys should not be static. If you’ve made changes, then change your post-visit survey or send out a single survey specifically about those changes. Following up shows patients you are committed to improving their experience and continues to engage them in the process. These types of ongoing interactions and engagement are a key way to build loyalty at a time when patients are more likely than ever to go elsewhere when they are dissatisfied.
Josh Weiner is the president and chief operating officer of Solutionreach.