Posts Tagged ‘customer service’

Doctor’s Day is March 30. Here’s our latest press release for DrScore.com in recognition of the important role that doctors play in patients’ lives.


Patient Satisfaction: DrScore’s Three Simple Solutions for Improving Customer Service

Online physician rating website shares latest research for Doctor’s Day on March 30

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–In recognition of Doctor’s Day on March 30 and the important role that physicians play in patients’ lives, DrScore.com is sharing three simple solutions to improving patient satisfaction. The tips are the result of an analysis of data from 180,000 patient satisfaction surveys on the DrScore.com online doctor rating website.

“It’s a fact: A patient’s health care experience does matter. Patient satisfaction is important in its own right, but it also improves the outcomes of a patient’s care,” said patient satisfaction expert Steve Feldman, M.D., founder of DrScore. “And at DrScore, the online ratings of patient experiences strongly suggest that there are three very important factors that contribute to patient satisfaction.”

1. Keep wait times short. DrScore’s data analysis found that 44 percent of wait times were less than 15 minutes, 34 percent were 15 to 30 minutes, 13 percent were 30 to 60 minutes, and 9 percent were greater than one hour. “There is a strong, statistically significant correlation between wait times and overall patient satisfaction,” Dr. Feldman said. He suggested the following to improve patient satisfaction in this area:

  • If wait times are consistently running longer than 30 minutes, doctors should look into their operations and find out if patients are being scheduled too close together or if there is another operational reason this is happening. “Making the goal 15 minutes or less is even better, particularly for primary care providers,” Dr. Feldman said.
  • Make the waiting room pleasant with plenty of good reading materials, coffee, etc. “Time goes by very slowly in an unpleasant waiting room,” Dr. Feldman said. “The best doctors don’t even call it a waiting room — they call it a reception area and do their best not to keep patients waiting.”

2. Spend enough time with each patient. “Patients tend to feel like 10 minutes or longer is adequate time to spend with the doctor, and the DrScore data shows that two-thirds of visits last this amount of time,” Dr. Feldman said. “We found that 23 percent of visits run five to 10 minutes, and 11 percent run less than five minutes. The statistics are clear: The longer a doctor spends with a patient, the more satisfied the patient tends to be with the visit.”

3. Make sure your demeanor is perceived as being friendly and caring. Patients need to have a sense of feeling cared for. “A caring and friendly attitude is far and away the most important variable that contributes to patient satisfaction,” Dr. Feldman said.

The DrScore researchers performed an analysis to determine the independent contributions of different variables such as age, gender, first or return visit, routine or emergent care, wait time, time with doctor and the doctor’s friendly/caring attitude. Wait time and time with doctor were statistically significant, but their contribution to overall satisfaction was small, each accounting for only about 10 percent of the variance in patient satisfaction. In contrast, the doctor’s friendly/caring attitude was the strongest contributor to patient satisfaction, accounting for more than three-fourths of the variance in patient satisfaction/doctor rating scores.

“Tips 1 and 2 don’t matter nearly as much as Tip 3,” Dr. Feldman said. “Every time, before a doctor walks into the exam room, he or she should pause and think: ‘How am I going to make this patient feel cared for today?’ And ‘how can I make sure they realize I am a friendly, caring doctor?”

About DrScore.com

Founded by Steve Feldman, M.D., DrScore.com is an interactive online survey site where patients can rate their physicians, as well as find a physician based on their service level preference. DrScore’s mission is to improve medical care by giving patients a forum for rating their physicians, and by giving doctors an affordable, objective, non-intrusive means of documenting the quality of care that they provide. For more information, visit www.drscore.com.

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When it comes to customer service, banks are a lot like physician offices.

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Bankers aren’t exactly held in high esteem right now.  I met one banker on a recent flight who pointed out that her lawyer friends are glad that bankers have replaced lawyers on the bottom rung of the esteem ladder.  She found it funny that my son wore a banker costume for Halloween this year because he wanted “to be something really scary for trick-or-treating.”

All joking aside, I have realized that  banks are a lot like physicians’ offices when it comes to client/patient satisfaction.  Banks make a strong effort to make their customers feel cared for.  The key person for doing this is not the “personal banker” who sees the customer maybe a few ties a year, but the front line tellers who tend to see the clients every week.  Similarly, patient satisfaction in the doctor’s office isn’t only the doctor’s responsibility.

Everyone is part of the team, and each staff member needs to give his or her best effort to make patients feel cared for.

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Medicine is a science, but it is also a highly personal experience.

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I noticed on the back of a banker’s business card it said:

“Reliable, responsive, empathtic and competent service.”

We docs are trained to give competent service: the right diagnosis, the right medicine and skilled surgery.  But like the customers in a bank, our patients also deserve our attention to reliability, responsiveness and empathy.

Yes, medicine is a science, but it is also a highly personal experience.

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Now here’s a doc who understands the importance of patient satisfaction.

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Winston-Salem, N.C., dentist Dr. Matthew Keider made the news with the opening of his new $1.2 million dental office.  The facility, designed to give patients a more comfortable dental experience, greets patients with the smell of fresh baked cookies and coffee, rather than the usual dental office odors.

By paying attention to the conditions of the office, the context of the medical encounter, I’m sure Dr. Keider’s patients will have an easier time with their dental procedures.  Dr. Keider is on the right track: attention to patient satisfaction is a key element of great care.

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I have two amazing colleagues who specialize in skin surgery.  I send many patients their way, and uniformly those patients return telling me how awesome my colleagues are.

Just the other day, I asked one of these patients what was so special.  He said they were terrific, that everything about their office was terrific, that their nurses were terrific.  He loved the way they carefully explained everything they were doing and how the nurse held his hand during the procedure.

I’m sure the surgery was good, too, but what this patient noticed, what all patients notice, is personal care. If your physician provided great personal care for you, please tell him or her. Go to www.drscore.com and take the quick online survey to rate your physician.

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While I was in Japan recently, my credit card didn’t work — most likely because I didn’t warn my credit card company that I was going to be in Japan.

When I got back to the States, I called the company to make sure the hold on my card was taken off. I spent FOREVER on the phone waiting for assistance (it must have been 30 to 40 minutes).  Then the line went dead. I called and waited again only to get  connected to a service representative who said that because their systems were down,  she couldn’t help me.

I felt like they made me waste my time. I got mad. I’m sure I didn’t sound particularly nice.

Generally, I’m a nice guy, but I’m sure this person could hear how angry I was and thought I was just  chronically unhappy.

I just wanted to get off the phone, so I didn’t give this representative who couldn’t help me much time to argue with me.  It would have been easy for her to be surly in response to my being surly, but that would have just escalated my anger.  A better approach would have been for her to  remember that the angry customer may be an entirely reasonable —  just temporarily unhappy — person.

In our doctors’ offices, it may also be hard to see that the patient who comes in unhappy — possibly because of us keeping them waiting — may not always be unhappy or angry. We should treat every patient with respect and give them the benefit of the doubt.

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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.

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