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The Importance of Patient Satisfaction

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In the everchanging healthcare climate, organizations are working rigorously to improve patient satisfaction and the patient experience, beginning pre-service through both clinical and financial interactions. Patient satisfaction is more important than ever due to increased competition and other market activity, and there are numerous factors affecting outcomes when measuring it: ease of scheduling, check-in, short wait times, quality provider interaction and communication, seamless billing…the list goes on and on.

Patient satisfaction is not necessarily about the patient’s experience but ultimately about whether a patient’s preconceived expectations about an encounter were met. For example, two people who receive the exact same care from the exact same provider may have different expectations for how that care should be delivered. These patients may give vastly different satisfaction ratings because of their individual expectations.

Not only is a positive patient experience vitally important, there are significant correlations between the patient experience and health care processes and outcomes. If a patient feels good about their doctor and the care they’re receiving, they’re more likely to comply with treatment recommendations, ultimately leading to better clinical outcomes—which leads to greater satisfaction, loyalty and referrals. However, outcomes should always use patient satisfaction as a balance measure and not a driver for outcomes.

A great overall patient experience comes from more than just the patient’s interaction with the clinician; it’s influenced by everyone and everything within the healthcare organization, even before the patient steps foot in the office. From preregistration, wait time, check-out, and all the way through the billing process, it’s influenced by the entire organization’s framework.

Due to the competitive healthcare landscape, more and more organizations are adding the role of Chief Patient Experience Officer to enhance the patient experience, leading to higher satisfaction scores. Healthcare organizations have realized the crucial connection between engaged, satisfied staff and happy patients. Without engaged, motivated employees, the patient experience will suffer. Good patient experience and satisfaction scores are a reflection of the overall health of an organization, including its employees’ wellbeing.

If healthcare organizations want to improve the patient experience and satisfaction scores, they need to put their patients first and at the center of everything they do. Everything counts from the patient’s perspective, and they will continue to measure their quality of care based on their own perceptions and expectations vs. others’.

Dan is a results-driven healthcare executive and business leader with over 20 years of experience. Connect on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/daniel-j-thies-5923507/

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