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Friday, 21 July 2017

how to improve patient satisfaction in clinic or hospital

patient satisfaction
     Patients are an integral part of every medical practice. The simple truth is that patient play a key role in marketing your practice as well. Patient satisfaction affects the out comes of clinic or hospital. Given the advent of Internet usage, patients are more inclined to get recommendations on hospitals and health providers from online searches as well as relying on word of mouth recommendations. A study by Google showed that 84% of patients use both online and offline sources for hospital search. Therefore, it is important for physicians to optimise their practice (both online and offline) to ensure patient satisfaction and patient referrals. This article discusses improve patient satisfaction.

1 Easy registration of New patients - improve patient satisfaction

     Improving the registration process during the first visit, by limiting the paperwork or perhaps offering a simple online registration process would be practices that new patient would appreciate.

2 Automated appointment reminders - improve patient satisfaction

     It is human nature to forget things and it is no different with doctor's appointments. Automated appointment reminders have been found to be extremely helpful to help patients keep track of their upcoming appointments. It also makes it easier for your staff as they would not need to make repeated phone calls to remind patients. It will improve patient satisfaction


3 Set expectations with your patients - - improve patient satisfaction

     Honesty is the best policy. Being open and honest with your patients is something they welcome and expect from their caregivers. Whether it is about your practice timings, insistence about following a treatment plan or introducing them to online consultations or remote care, be upfront with your patients about how you plan to help them and what you expect from them in return. 
During the visit. 

4 Thank patients for referrals -  - improve patient satisfaction

     It is important to find out who referred your new patient. This is because it is worth the time to thank your patients for referring their friends or family to your practice. This gesture goes a long way in ensuring you have strong and lasting relationships with your patients and it makes them feel special. 

5 Online Prescriptions -  - improve patient satisfaction

     Set yourself apart from other physicians and show your patients that you are committed to caring for them. Online prescriptions are a great way to do this. By emailing prescriptions to your patients, you are ensuring better patient adherence to treatment. Include details about medication, dosage and any special lifestyle related instructions that you'd like them to follow. This, in turn, means better health outcomes for your patients - a fact that will only serve to increase referrals. 

6 Tell patients about your patient portal -  - improve patient satisfaction

      Clinic visits present the best opportunity to tell patients, old and new about your patient portal. In order to gain meaningful use, you need to explain to your patients the benefits of using your patient portal to engage with you. Whether it is to get health queries answered, share or view health records or have their health monitored, it is important to educate patients about how to use your patient portal. 

7 Talk about your mobile app-  - improve patient satisfaction

     Hospitals and clinics are increasingly adopting the use of mobile apps as a means of connecting with your patients. It is vital to explain to your patients why they should get on board. Mobile apps offer patients the convenience of being able to get in touch with health providers whenever they need to. It makes it easy to book appointments, get second opinions, share health reports and even consult with doctors. Another advantage of mobile apps is the fact that it can serve as a means of patient education. You can share health information with all your registered patients rather than have them depend on incorrect information online. Making an extra effort to save them time and effort will definitely be reasons for your patients to provide more referrals.

8 Encourage online patient testimonials -  - improve patient satisfaction

     Asking for patient feedback, thanking them for their suggestions and queries, providing updates about hospital events and news goes a long way in ensuring patient goodwill. It is important to maintain transparency with your medical practice to get your patients to trust you. Encouraging them to review your practice online is another way of showing patients that you value their opinion and are open to taking their suggestions. Allowing patients to provide reviews and testimonials on your website or patient portal is also hugely beneficial for your online reputation.  


After Visits - 

9 Follow-up appointments -  - improve patient satisfaction

     Most physicians ask patients to follow-up with them after their initial visit, perhaps a week or two later. Patients often forget about following through. Most people do not realise that the follow-up visit is a part of the health plan. Having a system which allows you to book a follow-up appointment for your patients, which then send them an automated reminder, can make this process easier. Follow-up care can ensure patients are on the right path to recovery and that they are satisfied with their care. 

10 Get feedback -  - improve patient satisfaction

     Many hospital and clinics have a suggestion box for patients to drop in any feedback they may want to provide regarding their experience. You can take this a step further by engaging with you patients via email or text messages using an automated notification system. 

Between Visits

11 Tele health and online consultations -  - improve patient satisfaction

     Online consultation and Telehealth services hold a huge untapped potential for patient referrals. Again, the convenience of being able to ask your provider health questions or carrying out a video consultation with them when you are unable to visit them is a convenient option for most patients. This also means that your patients can refer people they know in other locations (cities or countries) to your online practice. 


12 Care in between visits with free health monitoring -  - improve patient satisfaction

     Chronic care requires you to constantly monitor patients. This can now be done remotely with health monitoring plans. Setting up remote monitoring plans for your chronically ill patients is a convenient way for them to track their progress for your periodic review. This minimises the number of hospital visits, saving your patients time, effort and cost a fact that they will greatly appreciate. 

13 Patient education relevant to their illness -  - improve patient satisfaction

     Most of the patient look up their illness and medications online, before or even after being diagnosed by a doctor. Rather than depending on an unverified online source of information on the internet, health providers should strive to educate their patients about their health. Using your patient portal or sharing health information through mobile health application is a great way to disseminate the right information to your patients. This can also serve as a means for them to recommend your practice to their friends. 

Optimising your practice

14 Website and social media -  - improve patient satisfaction

        Having an online presence, be it a patient portal, website or social media community does not just help with patient engagement but also contributes greatly to patient referrals. These platforms serve as extensions of your practice that help you stay connected with your patients.In fact, a survey showed that 41% of people said they are influenced by social media when it comes to their choice of physicians and hospitals. With online users becoming increasingly dependent on web searches and social media communities for suggestions on healthcare, it is only prudent for health providers to ensure they have an active and engaging online presence.


15 Physician Outreach -  - improve patient satisfaction

     In addition to referrals from friends and family, studies show that patients also take into consideration recommendations made by their primary care physician. It's all about networking. This is particularly the case when it comes to getting second opinions and for specialised medical procedures. Physician referrals are hence also an important means of gaining footfalls in your practice. It is estimated that 6 out of 10 patients choose health providers based on their location. Maintaining a good relationship with physicians and doctors in and around your practice can ensure better business returns. 

16 Get your staff involved -  - improve patient satisfaction

     Iven if you have a popular website or active social media presence, it is absolutely imperative to train your staff to listen to the needs of your patient. Receptionist, nurses and support staff need to understand and empathise with patients to ensure they have the best experience when they visit your hospital or clinic. Reducing long waiting periods, simplifying appointment booking, quick billing supporting insurance reimbursements, scheduling follow up care and improving access to health records are some of the key aspects of clinic management that can increase patient satisfaction and improve referrals.


17 Cashless appointments -  - improve patient satisfaction

     Offer patients that option to pay for their appointments online. Enable online payments for appointments booking so that patients can pay prior to their visit. This way. you can also be assured that your patients will honour their appointment. 

18 Honour your commitments (and apologise if you can't) -  - improve patient satisfaction

     You never know when you may have unexpected changes in your schedule, be it an emergency procedure, personal commitments or perhaps a scheduling error. Always try to stick to your schedule but if you can't, it is important to notify your patients to avoid any unpleasantness. If you have caused them to wait for their consultation or rescheduled their appointments, it would bode well to apologise for the inconvenience. Your patients will understand and appreciate these small gestures. 
Contributor Dr: K M Abdulla MS

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