Fotolia_63478782_XSPatient satisfaction surveys can have several purposes. One is to improve patient care as much as possible. This is something that is important when ensuring stability within the practice through patient retention. The “patient is always right” model is something that has been a strong driving force behind healthcare for many years. The question, however, is whether or not it is the right approach? Classifying a patient as a customer can be a slippery slope to walk on.

We live in a time where patients have a great deal of information available to them. Websites, such as WebMD have allowed anyone within an Internet connection to plug in symptoms and look at hundreds of possible diseases and conditions. When they go to the doctor, they may not be satisfied with their care if a doctor doesn’t run every single test that is available or consider every possibility. Some individuals even expect the exact drug that came up in their Internet search to be prescribed to them.

This means when patient satisfaction surveys are used, the doctor may still receive low scores when they did everything that was reasonable in the patient’s care. There may not have been another thing that could have been done, but the surveys leave a lot of room for patient perception to be expressed.

In a statement by Health literacy, nine out of ten patients lack the skills that are needed to receive and interpret information about their health. This results in them not agreeing with their doctors. Low physician patient satisfaction scores translate into low hospital scores. Financial penalties can result from this and that means lost revenue and poor employee morale.

How Physicians can Improve Patient Satisfaction Scores

Healthcare consulting companies are a great place to start because they are able to give that outside perspective from operations to billing and more. Having an outside perspective can also help with the design of patient satisfaction surveys. Unfortunately, these surveys tend to be poorly designed and too long. That means the completion rate is rather low, which means there is not a lot of data to use. The data can also be unreliable.

Educating the patient can help a great deal when it comes to health literacy, which means physicians need to know how to give as much information as possible in a short period of time. This is one way to improve scores until patient satisfaction surveys can be redesigned in a way that patients can understand them and will be willing to take the time with them. If these surveys are redesigned, then the number of completed surveys can be increased because the questions will be understood.

In the exam room, it is also important for doctors to keep in mind that the model of “the patient is always right” does not necessarily apply to diagnosis and treatment. The integrity of the physician needs to come first when attempting to increase patient satisfaction scores.

Account Management and Patient Satisfaction

One way to improve patient satisfaction scores is to ensure sound account management. Any time a patient feels that they are being billed for something in error, they are not going to be satisfied and this can result in a poor score from that patient. By treating the patient the way they should be treated at the window and on paper, they will use that experience to give positive results.

And because reimbursement is based on a number of factors related to patient treatment, patient satisfaction surveys can have an effect. Take Relative Value Units into consideration, for instance. RVUs consider the workload that a physician takes on when calculating reimbursement. If the physician has good patient satisfaction surveys and the public knows this, then the physician will receive more patients. This means a higher workload that will result in better reimbursement from Medicaid.

All in all, everything works hand-in-hand when it comes to quality care, reimbursement, and reputation. That is why every practice and facility needs to take them seriously and do everything possible to encourage patients to fill them out with positive feedback. Even in a world where there is so much information available online and everyone tries to diagnose themselves, there are ways to make the patient filled cared for when diagnosing, treating, and even when processing the paperwork.

 

When you want to improve patient satisfaction, it can be beneficial to have an outside perspective. Find out about how MD Pro Solutions can help you by calling us at 508-946-1665 or filling out our contact form so someone from our office can contact you.