Dr Avnesh Ratnanesan, CEO at Energesse explains the benefits of measuring patient satisfaction and provides some tips and insights that you can implement in your own practice.
Research has shown that the patient experience (i.e. patient satisfaction) is a key driver of patient loyalty, revenue and profitability of private medical care.
However, one of the key challenges for private practices in general practice, allied health and specialist care is knowing how to accurately measure the patient experience and what patients actually think of the service received and other important aspects of the patient journey.
Practice owners and managers therefore need to have regular feedback mechanisms or conduct surveys. In particular, they need to know what to ask in a patient experience survey. Fourteen key patient experience domains are used in surveys, in a quest to measure the ‘right’ things that matter to patients: communication with doctors and nurses, confidence and trust in health professionals, compassion and empathy, involvement in treatment decisions, responsiveness of hospital staff, coordination and integration, emotional support – relieving fear and anxiety, being treated with dignity and respect, involvement of family and friends, pain management, cleanliness, quietness, discharge processes and post-discharge.
How do you decide what your themes should be when the list could be overwhelming?
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- How you are going to use your outcomes – what are you going to do with the results? Ensuring that you can relate outcomes to your KPIs is key.
- If you’re thinking about benchmarking, keep your questions aligned with best practice and make sure your sample is representative of the patient demographics that come through your door.
- The patients who come in to see you have physical, emotional and personal needs. They often come in with a caregiver, friend or family member, whom they rely on. Capture enough of your patients’ need areas but don’t forget to measure caregiver thoughts too.
- If you want richer insights into patient experience, comments or stories that can alert or encourage staff, then identify what patients feel are the most important aspects in their experience of your health practice, and seek specific information around that.
We reviewed what is commonly important to patients based on a 2009 research report by The Kings Fund (UK) and a 2015 report by Deloitte (US):
The King’s Fund – patients’ ratings of aspects of inpatient care 2009 (top 8 out of 30)
- Confidence and trust in doctors and nurse treating me
- Clear explanations of my condition and treatment
- Staff knowing enough about my condition and treatment
- Getting clear answers to my questions
- Being treated with dignity and respect
- Pain relief
- Operations or procedures being performed on time
Deloitte – important factors in patient healthcare experience 2015 (top 7 out of 14)
- Quality of doctors and clinical staff
- Keeping me informed about my treatment
- Conducting scheduled appointments on time
- Ease of scheduling an appointment
- Integration of my medical records across all of my health providers
- Appointment availability at desired day and time
- Ease of understanding my bill
Energesse – our observations
- Enduring themes – quality, trust, communication and timing
- The need to always monitor: 'What mattered most to you in your experience?'
- Process measurement is important but communication/interaction is core to meeting the personal and emotional need aspects of the patient experience – measure it!
- 'Online capabilities','Room furnishing' mattered less (Deloitte) – where most investment is sunk.
In Europe, the outcomes were similar. The Picker Institute identified that, how nurses and doctors interact with patients was a key determinant of overall satisfaction with care; and, how coordinated their efforts were and whether they treated patients with dignity and respect.
Energesse is a patient experience specialist committed to helping healthcare organisations improve their patient experience measurement through affordable technology solutions, training, consulting and advisory services.
Understanding patient satisfaction is crucial to success
Practice success is dependent on the satisfaction of your patients. Knowing how to accurately measure the patient experience is key to understanding patient satisfaction. If you would like to know how you can improve this area of your business, please get in touch and we will put you in contact with one of our expert partners.