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A Step-By-Step Guide To Raising Patient Satisfaction Scores

Many healthcare institutions may ask patients for input as part of their attempts to increase patient satisfaction. It’s a strategy that evolved primarily due to the consumer industry’s success with customer experience campaigns that aim to improve happiness and promote loyalty and revenue.

But how important is patient satisfaction? In recent years, many top healthcare businesses have begun to shift away from ‘satisfaction’ as a KPI in favor of a more comprehensive patient experience program.

Difference Between Patient Satisfaction And ​patient Experience

Said, patient satisfaction measures a patient’s feelings after a single encounter with a healthcare professional. It might occur during a doctor’s visit, after utilizing an online booking system, or after receiving care in a hospital or clinic.

The Beryl Institute defines patient experience as “the total of all encounters, determined by an organization’s culture, that affect patient impressions along the continuum of care.”

There is a difference to be made between a single point-in-time encounter and the entire patient experience. Patient experience considers various aspects that influence a patient’s experience across time, as opposed to patient satisfaction, which considers each contact separately.

At Medifusion, we think that understanding what patients engagement and taking action to enhance both the service and treatment they get is a more thorough and effective method to understand what they need.

Is Patient Satisfaction Necessary?

Patient satisfaction surveys are still relevant, especially in countries like the United States, where payments are based on high patient satisfaction scores. Still, they should be considered part of a larger patient experience program.

Many aspects of the patient lifecycle, such as researching and selecting a new healthcare provider, arranging an appointment using an online portal, or contacting the support staff to fix a problem, are similar to consumer experiences.

Asking patients how happy they were with these encounters is a powerful tool for driving action to enhance the experience. Understanding their satisfaction and understanding the primary causes behind their score is critical to driving action to improve the experience.

But how do these encounters fit into the bigger picture of the patient’s journey? Patients will interface with healthcare through various channels, including applications and websites, as well as more traditional clinics, hospitals, and call centers.

Each of those contacts impacts how people perceive the care they receive, and the overall experience is the result of all of them. So knowing each one’s experience is a good start, but you also need to put them together to know which lever to pull to improve the entire experience.

Similarly, there are some situations where ‘satisfaction’ is just unimportant. For example, in a clinical context, asking patients if they were happy with the care they received. Patients demand safe, convenient, and competent care in these environments, and asking how happy they were will provide you with no insight into those three important expectations.

When Is It Appropriate To Employ Patient Satisfaction Surveys?

You may have a lot of satisfaction surveys’ going across several channels as part of a larger patient experience campaign. Instead of seeing patient satisfaction as a single, all-encompassing survey or program, see it as a collection of feedback points along with the patient experience, some of which may utilize “satisfaction” as a measure.

These are more ‘consumer-like’ interactions, in which a patient is trying to achieve a specified objective and a satisfaction meter is a good tool to track progress.

However, keep in mind that they should be part of a larger patient experience program that includes other patient input, analytics, and even employee satisfaction measurements.

Here are a few examples of where patient satisfaction measurements are commonly used:

Surveys Of HCAHPS

HCAHPS (The Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) is a comprehensive, standardized, and publicly published study of hospital consumer opinions. It’s simply a patient satisfaction survey that’s been standardized to allow for reporting and Medicare reimbursement management across the country.

HCAHPS survey assesses patient satisfaction in inpatient hospitals. The poll assesses and reports on eight different types of care:

  • doctor-patient communication
  • nurse-patient communication
  • hospital staff responsiveness
  • communication regarding medications
  • facts about the discharge
  • The hospital environment’s cleanliness and tranquility
  • Care transitions
  • overall score

 

When evaluating and increasing patient satisfaction, healthcare organizations have always used the conventional HCAHPS methodology.

Many in the industry think that the HCAHPS approach needs to be modified. Even though feedback is received, many healthcare organizations still struggle to comprehend and act on it to enhance patient satisfaction.

Feedback On The Website

From judging providers based on their websites to communicate with services through a provider’s app to getting health advice and information long before someone requires treatment, digital is becoming increasingly vital throughout the patient experience.

And, as with any digital service, customer happiness may be a helpful statistic for encouraging return visits, loyalty, and increased acquisition in the case of providers.

It all starts with a detailed grasp of your digital properties’ various patient journeys and a strategy for gathering feedback at each stage.

Make sure your surveys inquire about the main drivers, which are the elements that impact the patient’s happiness and how happy they were with the contact.

Take, for example, making an appointment online. With the entire experience and then ask specific questions about key stages along the route, such as:

  • appointment availability
  • available times/days
  • communication

You’ll be able to not only track how you’re doing but also discover areas where you may improve to boost overall satisfaction. Similarly, asking disgruntled patients an open text follow-up question allows them to tell you what you can do to enhance their experience in their own words.

Improvements In Customer Service

Most healthcare facilities will include a ‘customer care’ component that serves to handle patient concerns and give proactive help and support, ranging from call centers to online chat and even social media support.

These are excellent locations for gathering input and promoting change. They may be a great source of insights, whether it’s in the moment through follow-up questions following a chatbot engagement to email or IVR surveys delivered to patients after the phone contact.

Organizations may utilize feedback to find macro-level chances for development by detecting trends and patterns from a bigger population and then feeding that data back into a larger patient experience program, in addition to understanding and resolving specific concerns.

For example, a patient may call to report a problem with a prescription, which an agent may help with right away. However, if this is a common problem, your customer service executives will be able to recognize it and initiate organizational-wide steps to address the core cause.

Consequently, patients will have a better experience, and your contact center will save money by fixing an issue that was costing you a lot of money every time someone phoned to report it.

Telehealth Appointments

Patients increasingly use telehealth services, and clinicians frequently ask for comments after sessions to better understand how they felt.

Many of the reasons to collect feedback here aren’t related to patient satisfaction. For instance, remark on the clinician’s clarity of information, how well they described your alternatives, and so on. You can use satisfaction to gather product insights, just like any other digital service.

For instance, after an e-consult, ask users if they were pleased with the technology, and then look into key factors such as the user experience, the quality of the stream, the log-in procedure.

These are important contacts during which you should consider using a more “consumer” perspective to gauge patient satisfaction better and identify steps you can do to improve it.

How To Improve Patient Satisfaction?

While the ultimate objective should always be to improve the entire patient experience, your actions in response to your satisfaction surveys will certainly play a significant influence.

While the ultimate objective should always be to improve the entire patient experience, your actions in response to your satisfaction surveys will certainly play a significant influence.

That requires putting mechanisms in place to collect patient feedback and evaluate it at scale and determine the best next measures to take.

Likewise, establishing a closed-loop follow-up mechanism is critical. It is typical in the consumer goods industry, and it’s growing more prevalent in healthcare as well.

A closed-loop system allows you to take action personally and at an organizational level. Let’s imagine a patient giving your website’s appointment booking service a bad CSAT score and claiming they could not complete their schedule.

Their satisfaction survey will add to your knowledge of improving the service, but with the right technology in place. It might also prompt a team member to contact the patient for follow-up and assist them with their schedule.

In this case, the satisfaction score is the signal, the patient’s way of saying, “Hey, I need some help here,” and you can remedy a terrible experience by having the resources to move swiftly to help them continue their trip.

To Boost Patient Satisfaction, You’ll Need These Tools

We’ve previously seen that there are a few basic features that you’ll need in every satisfaction survey to use it effectively:

  • At the critical periods, real-time input is essential.
  • To be able to find insights, you’ll need analytics.
  • Tools to help individuals and organizations take action

It may do much of this with the aid of a top-of-the-line survey platform. However, as we’ve seen, pleasure is just part of the story when it comes to healthcare – you need to be able to comprehend the full patient experience and all the aspects that impact patient perceptions along the way.

To gain an end-to-end picture of the experience, you’ll need to be able to combine all of the input, including satisfaction surveys and other patient feedback, onto a single platform. Furthermore, you must link it with operational data to determine how those experiences affect the organization’s key performance indicators (KPIs).

Finally, you must combine it with employee experience data; after all, the culture of a business, as well as the involvement, quality, and devotion of its employees, have just as much of an influence on a patient’s impressions as anything else.

A patient experience platform can help with this. Patients can provide feedback through various avenues, including email surveys following appointments, your app or website, social media, and online review sites.

Because Medifusion is an HCAHPS-approved vendor, you can integrate your HCAHPS surveys into the same platform that the world’s greatest healthcare organizations use to improve the patient and staff experience at every touchpoint.

It means you have everything on one platform. You can use strong analytics and automated actions to optimize the entire system and provide patients a better experience at every touchpoint.

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