In order to be effective, receive reimbursements and grow, healthcare organizations must be in tune to the patient experience. The challenge, however, is having a clear-cut and effective way to measure and understand the patient experience so the right changes can be made.
One of the first things many organizations do when working to improve patient satisfaction is enhance the appearance of their office. While having a comfortable, modern office is important, it is not the most important thing to your patients. Here are five things that drive patients away.
- Poor Communication & Empathy – A doctor that truly listens and understands is priceless. A Cleveland Clinic study found that 82% of survey respondents reported that doctor empathy was important to them. Patients schedule time to see their doctor and expect to be allotted enough time to have their questions and concerns addressed. If they feel rushed or not listened to, they will walk away with a negative taste in their mouth that can impact their desire to return.
- Long Wait Time – One of the biggest frustrations patients have is sitting either in the waiting room or exam room waiting for their doctor to see them. Your patient’s time is valuable. Just as you don’t want patients to be late for their appointment, they also expect to be seen within an acceptable amount of time. If you leave them waiting and wondering, you allow them to build frustration. Emergencies happen and patients will most likely understand should one be the cause of the delay. Routine issues with wait times, however, are not acceptable. It is necessary to figure out a solution to improve wait times. If chronic overscheduling is the culprit, stop doing it! And be sure to clearly communicate to patients the reason for the delay so they don’t wonder if they have been forgotten. Lastly, don’t forget the power of an apology!
- Poor Follow Up – A common complaint among patients is the wait time when trying to reach a doctor or nurse with a clinical question or a refill request. Patients understand that staff is busy, however, having to wait an exorbitant amount of time to receive a reply can be frustrating. If follow up time is an issue, consider sharing the call back load among clinical staff. In addition, develop a plan that includes calling patients back to check on them after they have a procedure or receive a new prescription to ensure there are no questions or concerns.
- Poor experiences with staff – The majority of patient complaints stem from a negative experience with the staff. If your employees are not providing wow patient experiences, the root of the problem must be addressed immediately. It is necessary to take steps to ensure not only patients are happy, but also staff. If they are dissatisfied in the workplace, this will carry over into their interactions with patients. Happy employees help make happy patients.
- Not Involving the Patient – Patient-centered care is an important part of healthcare delivery. When patients do not understand their diagnosis, treatment or follow up plan, they often become frustrated and non compliant. Patients that are provided information both verbally and in a format they can take home are more relaxed and confident in the care they are receiving. Printed information that clearly states how they are to take care of themselves is extremely valuable to the patient and their family. It also provides a concrete way for the patient to be accountable for their healthcare delivery.