Based on studies conducted by Jeff LaConte of the P&G Healthcare Consumer Institute (HCI), the following is a list of key areas of patient satisfaction. In a survey conducted with over 9,500 primary health care consumers, HCI reported the following results to help understand their met and unmet needs. This perception of performance is designed to help identify the gaps and missed opportunities to enhance satisfaction and overall patient contentment. The survey was performed about a decade ago, but according to many practice management consultants, the items driving patient satisfaction are still valid today and apply to many types of practices. Practices that have a large turnover in their patient population and have problems growing their practice should take note of the following attributes considered important to patient.
Patient Satisfaction with the Primary Care Physician
Of the greatest importance to patients, both male and female, is that their physician makes decisions in the patient’s best interests, and is someone that they can trust. They expect their physician to be familiar with their medical history and be willing to ask questions to understand their current condition. Respect for patients’ privacy is also among the most important aspects. Their physician must be willing to explain the treatment plan, and be willing to listen to the patient’s concerns and questions. They want a physician with good diagnostic skills along with the ability to explain the diagnoses, the needed medications and treatment options. The ability to get timely appointments and returned phone calls is considered critical as well
Also at the top of the list, patients wanted their physician to be caring, pleasant and approachable, and the providers and staff need to be knowledgeable and provide quality care. Services need to be reasonably priced for self-pay patients. Wait time should be reasonable. The staff should process claims within a reasonable time period with little or no difficulty. Patients define excellent care as a combination of technical competence with an attentive, personalized style and service.
Female patients are more concerned and sensitive than male patients regarding the way that the physician and the staff communicate with them. Women have higher expectations of service which means the practice has a greater chance of disappointing. Females want a patient experience where all forms of communications (telephone, reception, exam room) are courteous and respectful. All the practice staff and providers need to be aware of this concern and should apply it consistently to both female and male patients.
Improvements that Most Practices Can Make
Some areas may be easy to fix and will give a big boost to patient satisfaction. It is recommended that practices make an improvement in appointment availability and the timeliness of returned phone calls. They would also recommend an improvement of the wait time spent to see the doctor. It was also noted that many patients have a preference for additional evening and Saturday office hours. Satisfied patients stay with the practice for the long term and if something goes wrong, they are more likely to forgive.