Consistent Patient Satisfaction Requires a Strategy, Not a List

New Picture (1)The recent Healthcare Finance News article 10 ways to boost patient satisfaction, offers a list of Customer Service Standards that – when adhered to – “should do the trick” to grow patient satisfaction at your organization. The author notes that there are actually at least 30 ways to grow patient satisfaction. While the Standards noted in the article are generally good tactics for an individual employee to use in interacting with an individual patient, one could get the feeling that having satisfied patients is all about implementing a checklist.

It’s not.

Instead of 30, there are hundreds of ways to improve patient satisfaction. Keep in mind that patients form their opinion of their experience based on 3 key factors: The Attitudes/skills/knowledge of the employees, the Processes that they experience as a patient, and the Service itself. With Attitude/Process/Service as the backdrop, there are many ways where employees can convey a positive and caring attitude, exhibit a technical, customer service, or communications skill, and covey knowledge (of the patient, of processes/procedures/policies, and of services). There are hundreds of processes that a patient may experience – from registration to pre-op testing, from having x-rays to paying for services, from calling in to the facility to placing your meal order. And the services – the x-ray itself, the food, the surgery, the anesthesia care, the medicines provided – one inpatient stay alone has many services provided. And I haven’t even addressed the look, feel, and cleanliness of the facility itself.

To improve patient satisfaction for the long-term, you have to think strategically. What is the patient’s definition of a great experience? How can the organization provide that experience? What culture would foster a sense of responsiveness, caring, efficiency – where healthy internal relationships enable a great patient experience? How can processes become more simple and self-evident, efficient and yet customer-friendly? How can services be made more consistent, higher quality, and more seamlessly delivered?

To create and sustain high patient satisfaction, create strategies to transform your culture, to design and deliver a great patient experience, and to continually involve the Voice of the Patient in the design process and your continuous improvement initiatives.

Go beyond list-making to deliver a great patient experience.

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