Patient satisfaction has been a much-debated topic since the introduction of a government-mandated post-visit patient survey. Satisfaction surveys are meant to improve quality of care and get patients engaged in their healthcare. However, some industry leaders believe patient satisfaction goals are opposed to quality care outcomes.
Finding a middle road is difficult, but, with the right tools, entirely possible.
Challenge: Patient satisfaction and quality of care at odds
Improving patient outcomes is a goal that likely tops most physicians’ lists of priorities – but it’s often at odds with patient satisfaction goals. One might assume that satisfied patients are those who receive the best care and experience the most optimal outcomes, but this isn’t always the case.
Humans can be irrational creatures, and in a healthcare setting, this becomes readily apparent. The Atlantic explained that patient satisfaction efforts may inadvertently damage quality outcomes.
“Patient satisfaction surveys don’t always tell the whole story.”
For example, the magazine reported that one nurse was written up because her patient was extremely unsatisfied with his care. The patient’s complaint? The hospital didn’t carry Splenda. Another patient derided his provider for not adding enough pastrami to his sandwich. He’d just undergone a quadruple bypass surgery.
These examples may seem rare, but the consequences are real. CBS reported that many healthcare leaders are worried that government-mandated patient satisfaction surveys are connected to a rise in opioid abuse.
Nevertheless, patient satisfaction is a necessary compliance measure and a worthwhile goal. So how can providers give patients the treatment they need while accounting for human irrationality?
Increasing face-to-face communication with patients is a good place to start. Patients may be occasionally unreasonable – especially when stressed – but they aren’t immune to logic. Increased face time means doctors and nurses have the resources to explain their choices and address patient concerns as they arise.
Scheduling tools as part of a comprehensive approach to care
A comprehensive approach to patient care means patients are more satisfied and experience better outcomes, physicians stay engaged with compliance measures and the organization is able to control costs.
Scheduling plays an important role here, because the cost of no-shows is quite high. CrossCHX reported that, for one practice, the average rate of no-shows led to a daily loss of about $725. At an industry level, missed appointments result in an additional $150 billion burden.
Pre-visit patient engagement solutions such as, pre-registration, procedure preparation, multi-channel appointment reminders and on-demand notifications can lower the rate of no-shows and give providers additional resources to treat patients. If administrative staff members have fewer tasks draining their resources, they’ll likely have more time to spend on patient-centric tasks, such as explaining treatment options.
By combining your patient engagement efforts with your quality outcomes strategies, you’ll be able to see the larger picture of patient care. When your patients are engaged with their personal health and your clinical staff have more resources to connect with patients, you can bring each of your care goals into alignment.