Patient Satisfaction Has Never Been More Important To Your Practice

In any business, customer satisfaction is key; after all, a satisfied customer is virtually a guaranteed ticket to repeat sales, not to mention that all-important word-of-mouth that can bring new customers to the business. In medicine, it's no different. Satisfying patients is a critical part of making sure a practice is doing all it can to market itself to the very people who matter most – its current patients.

But in recent years, the push toward greater – and more consistent – patient satisfaction has taken on new meaning and greater importance. Under the Affordable Care Act, Medicare can tie reimbursements to levels of patient satisfaction as measured by patient surveys. For some practices, those measures can have a direct impact on how profitable they are.

But suppose your practice doesn't include Medicare patients, or Medicare reimbursements make up just a tiny fraction of your revenue? Should you still be concerned? The answer is yes, and here's why: Government regulations that set standards, whether for medical practices or in other businesses, often have an effect on private groups engaged in the same activity; so, for instance, Medicare reimbursement regulations are expected to have an influence on private insurance companies. Eventually, private insurers may tie reimbursements and allowable charges to patient satisfaction, or they may refuse to work with certain providers, leaving you out of the loop entirely when it comes to specific groups of patients.

Even without the threat of insurance cuts, patient satisfaction should still be front-and-center. Why? Because today's social sites make it easier than ever to share healthcare experiences for all to read, and that means the satisfaction level you provide – good or bad – could be broadcast to many of your prospective patients. In fact, in a recent survey by Demi & Cooper Advertising and DC Media Group, 41 percent of those polled said their choice of a healthcare provider would be influenced by social media posts; 90 percent of younger patients said they trust health information posted on social media.

Wondering what you can do to improve patient satisfaction at your practice? Here are some tips to share with your colleagues and staff:

  • Be engaging. Make sure to greet patients with a warm smile; sure, you and your staff are busy – but so are your patients. Let them know you value them and truly appreciate that they chose you over your competitor.
  • Put yourself in your patients' shoes. Seeing your practice the way your patients see it can provide you with some of the most valuable data regarding patient satisfaction. Go through the entire process – from calling the office for an appointment to interacting with the office staff to the waiting room and treatment areas to the moment a patient walks out the door. Ask yourself what you could do to make the experience more pleasant, friendly, and satisfying.
  • Be ready to make amends – immediately. If something goes wrong, don't take an attitude; instead, be gracious and let the patient know you want to make things right. This applies not only to situations in your office, but on social media as well.
  • Have regular meetings with your staff. Make customer service the mantra for your entire office. Hold regular meetings to review objectives and evaluate progress in areas that need improvements. When something does go wrong, don't blame – use it as a chance to learn what to do better next time.

When it comes to increasing patient satisfaction, it's often the little things that count the most. SmileMakers helps practices engage patients and their families by providing rewards and incentives designed to appeal to every kid. From stickers and small toys to colorful bandages and waiting room decor, building patient satisfaction is at the heart of all SmileMakers' products. If you're interested in exploring how SmileMakers can help you increase patient satisfaction at your practice, explore our website, use our online contact form, or give us a call at 1-888-800-SMILE(7645).

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