WBB's Thought Leadership

Three Tips for Improving Patient Satisfaction

May 22

To provide a positive patient experience and boost patient satisfaction scores physicians can focus on clear communication, the patient’s perception of time spent during an encounter, and patient access to specialist care.

WBB Take:  Physicians must adjust their bedside manner to cater to a patient population that increasingly seeks a deeper interpersonal relationship with their physician. The overall clinical experience and ease of communication between patient and physician sets patient expectations, and may determine the degree to which they will engage. In this sense, physicians are being rated higher on their ability to be a health partner, than on their technical skills and qualifications. It is important that physicians take the time to ensure that each patient has a positive interpersonal experience.
Effective two-way communication is foundational to establishing trust and rapport with patients, and may predict whether the patient will share their significant medical information, comply with care plans, and accept medical advice. Clear communication removes barriers to compliance, reduces medical errors due to misunderstandings, and improves patient outcomes.

Cited by Matthew Loxton, Julia Davis, and Stephanie Owusu

Excerpt: “Whether you are a primary care physician or a specialist, providing a positive patient experience and boosting patient experience scores can be challenging. Scoring vendors suggestions are often too general, and scientific data on improving patient experience scores often is lacking. [...] I identified three key areas that can dramatically affect how patients view you.”
1. “Communication. Nothing is more important that communication. In my research, I found clear communication is more important to patients than qualifications, especially when providers can set expectations before, during and after clinical encounters. In my own practice, I see how patients’ experience is improved by directly addressing their options for a particular treatment and encouraging them to play an active role in deciding how to proceed.”
2. “Perception. [...] patients’ perception of time spent during an exam may be more influential to their overall experience than the actual time spent with them. In my practice, that means taking the time to palpate skin lesions and examining the skin closely with overhead lighting or dermatoscopy, even when those steps may not be needed in all cases to provide a high-quality skin exam. It’s about being present in the moment and making your patients know that they’re your top priority when you are with them. Simple actions such as acting unrushed, sitting rather than standing, avoiding a rush to diagnose, and taking time to answer all their questions, even questions seemingly unrelated to what you feel the focus of their visit is, goes a long way to improve patient satisfaction.”
3. “Access. Although clear communication and meaningful exam time can improve patient experience, limited access can do just the opposite. Access barriers can be especially troublesome in specialty practices. My research revealed the importance of addressing access issues proactively. Referring physicians can help with this process by assuring patients the wait to see a specialist will not impact their heath, and the specialist they are being referred to is ‘worth the wait.’ Specialists can consider communicating with patients before their visit to confirm the referral was received and to ensure there are no concerns that might require expedited care.”

Source: Physicians Weekly



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