How to Improve Patient Satisfaction at Your Facility

Posted on: March 24, 2016

written by

Jess Huckins

It isn't hard to make a case for higher patient satisfaction. Beyond the obvious ethical benefits, there are other factors that staffing managers charged with finding the very best physicians should consider.

First, happier patients are not only more pleasant to be around, but they are also more likely to make timely payments to health care organizations. Because that's what keeps the medical field running at a high level, it’s essential to have care providers who are attentive to their patients’ needs and concerns.

As every provider knows, though, keeping patients happy is complicated. Factors such as emotion and chance are out of a physician's hands, yet they play a role in how a patient feels after a visit. Luckily, the level and detail of communication can be controlled, and the ability to provide real-time feedback positively correlates to high patient-satisfaction scores.

Traditional surveys are paper forms sent to patients after they've left the facility, and these forms' efficacy depends on whether they are ever mailed back. That alone is enough to suggest the limited usefulness of what is obviously an outdated method. Thankfully, a more 21st-century tool now exists.

Success at Mount Sinai

In July 2013, The Mount Sinai Medical Center launched a real-time survey tool for cancer patients receiving treatment. It was easily accessible on smartphones or any mobile browser, and its success was practically instantaneous. The hospital released a statement shortly afterward to announce that the tool was being used in record numbers.

As Mount Sinai's Dr. Randall F. Holcombe explained, patients were asked to provide the hospital with a cellphone number. "From there, we send them a text message asking them to fill out a brief survey on their smartphone," he said. "So far, the response has been outstanding. We get several-fold more responses than seen with traditional paper-based mail surveys."

Based on a simple, twelve-question format with a five-star rating system, Mount Sinai's online survey proved to be a quick and efficient way to assess quality of care. Patients were asked to rate factors such as appointment scheduling, wait time, and facility cleanliness.

An effective real-time patient-satisfaction tool provides medical facilities with information that helps them recognize what needs to change, reward what's working well, and recover unhappy patients’ business. These are significant, meaningful improvements.

The Locum Tenens Advantage

Offering patients the ability to provide real-time feedback, though, means you need to be ready with sufficient staffing. When clinicians are overburdened and burned out, patient interaction is one of the first things to suffer.

One way to ward off this issue is by pursuing locum tenens staffing. Using locums allows for continual, uninterrupted patient treatment through practically every staffing challenge, whether it's a peak busy period or simply a week or month when full-time staff is on vacation. When a hospital has a well-rested rotation of physicians at its disposal, care quality inevitably improves.

The bottom line? Real-time feedback is invaluable, but without happy physicians, it is unlikely to reveal what you hope it will. When it comes to ensuring patient satisfaction, medical facility staffing managers should look to locums for the answer.

How do you gather patient feedback at your practice? Tell us in the comments, or tweet us @bartonlocums!

About Jess Huckins

Jess Huckins was formerly the managing editor at Barton Associates’ Peabody, MA, headquarters. She joined Barton after nearly a decade of professional editing in the publishing, marketing, and healthcare fields, and she holds a master's degree in publishing and writing. 

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