Friday, 5 July 2013

What Qualities Really Influence Patient Satisfaction?

A survey by of 2917 patients has been analysed by a number of leading academics. 7 elements of the customer experience that patients use to rate their health service provision were identified.

1. Accessibility to Physician or healthcare services
2. Communication between the patient and the provider
3. The personality and demeanour of the provider
4. Quality of medical care processes such as diagnosis and treatment
5. Care continuity such as follow up conversations and referrals
6. Quality of healthcare facilities
7. Office staff – the link between the patient and the physician

Healthcare experiences that met each of these qualities were deemed to be ‘excellent.’ It is useful to take a moment to reflect on how your health screening service might be rated across each category.

At Full Health we have always maintained that better communication between the provider and the patient is the key to patient satisfaction, engagement and empowerment. Excellent communication at the point of consultation and of test results thereafter are crucial elements. 

In the words of Buddy Scalara “Engage your patients and move them along the journey.”

The study divides communication into 4 categories:

1. General communication,
2. Listening,
3. Treating the patient as a partner,
4. Giving information. 

Technical, medical information is often the focus of communication between the physician and the patient and the manner in which this is conveyed is crucial to ensure patient satisfaction. The method and delivery of this information must be accessible and presented in a people friendly manner.

Patients who rated physicians as excellent in this category made comments such as:

“Very easy to approach and communicate with”

“Excellent communicator”

“Plain spoken, straightforward in his approach.”

“Explains everything to me so that I can understand it.”

It is obvious that every physician should strive to provide this level of service. Yet increasing resource constraints caused by pressures such as aging population, narrowing budgets and margins and regulatory changes have led to multiple projections of demand outstripping supply. 

In this challenging environment how can an ‘excellent’ level of service provision and communication be ensured for every patient?

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