Medicine is a customer service oriented business. Patients should walk away from the physician’s office feeling that they have received good service just as they do when they walk out of a restaurant, hotel or clothing store.
When patients see a doctor about a medical condition, the patient wants to be given an accurate diagnosis and an effective treatment. But patient satisfaction involves much more than just that. DrScore data reveals that patients expect the following:
- good, clean, convenient facilities;
- friendly office staff;
- good access to care (including after normal business hours);
- follow-up on laboratory tests;
- good communication; and
- a friendly/caring doctor
One study of DrScore data analyzed how long patients waited to be seen and how long the doctor spent with the patient. The longer the patient waited, the lower the patient satisfaction. Less time spent with the doctor also lowered patient satisfaction. And when patients waited a long time and spent very little time with the doctor, the result was a “toxic combination.” Translation: The patients were terribly dissatisfied.
The above is with one caveat. A follow up study of the DrScore data also looked at how friendly and caring patients thought the doctor was. While this study also showed that patient satisfaction depended on waiting time and time spent with the doctor, those two factors only played a small role. Whether the patient felt the doctor was friendly and caring was far, far more important to the patient’s overall satisfaction.
Doctors should make an effort to show friendliness and caring with every patient at every visit. Some medical visits may not involve much time with the doctor. Sometimes, patient visits are unavoidably delayed, much to everyone’s consternation. But even in these adverse circumstances, if the doctor communicates how caring he or she really is, patients will appreciate it.