Posts Tagged ‘improve care’

As the founder of an important and perhaps the first online patient satisfaction feedback Web site (and the only one I know of that doctors encourage their patients to visit), I am a huge believer in the importance of enhancing the quality of American medical care.

My focus is on helping doctors give patients care that patients perceive is terrific.  Many other people — determined physicians, dedicated scientists — are working to improve the  technical aspects of care, particularly by developing and incorporating measures of quality and by reducing the number of preventable adverse events.

Dr. David Nash, Dean of the School of Population Health and the Thomas Jefferson University, is an expert in this rapidly advancing field.  I talked to him yesterday on the Getting Better Health Care radio program.  You can listen to the program or download the podcast here.

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I am often asked to speak to physician groups about how to improve patient satisfaction. Here are a few tips free of charge. 

  1. Make improving patient satisfaction a fundamental goal of the practice. Providing health care that is technically good (giving the patient the right diagnosis and treatment) is critical (of course), But if you provide this kind of care without paying attention to other aspects of the patient experience, the patient may not feel satisfied. It’s sort of like if Disney World offering the world’s fastest roller coaster (technically great), but didn’t work to ensure that the roller coaster experience was also magical!
  2. The importance of patient satisfaction must come from the physicians first. The physician has to be the leader. If the physician isn’t focused on patient satisfaction, the staff won’t be either.
  3. Appearances count. Make every aspect of the office inviting and friendly. Does the office need new paint or furniture? Would flowers or coffee help make your patients sense how much you care about them?
  4. Above all else, if you can, remove (or reduce the prominence of) signs at the check-in window that suggest that all you care about is money. Instead, put up a sign that says what you really think, something like, “We appreciate the trust you put in us, and we strive to give you the best possible medical care.”
  5. Learn from other successful service organizations. Many stores sell well made clothing, but what makes Nordstrom special is its attention to customer satisfaction.
  6. Be on time, as much as possible. You know that when you are kept waiting, you feel disrespected and uncared for. Leaving patients feeling that way is bad for patient satisfaction, bad for trust in the doctor, bad for compliance, and bad for malpractice risk.
  7. Ask for feedback. Feedback will let you know where you stand and how to improve. Asking for feedback also communicates to your patients that you care about them, respect them and value their opinions. 

I want to hear about some successful strategies your physician practice has employed to improve customer service. Please email me, and I will share tips in future blogs.

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