The Power and Ripple Effect of the Patient Satisfaction Survey

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If your hospital or medical practice is struggling with patient satisfaction, you are not alone. A March 10, 2015 article from U.S. News and World Report reveals that hundreds of hospitals are experiencing the exact same challenge. So much so that some hospitals are at risk of losing federal funding for poor feedback on patient satisfaction surveys.

Beginning in April of this year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will provide consumers with Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Provider and Systems (HCAHPS) five-star ratings retrieved from analysis from patient satisfaction surveys. The star ratings are designed to make it more straightforward for consumers to utilize hospital compare web sites, such as the Hospital Care website of Medicare.gov. This means that patient satisfaction is more powerful than ever before.

Benefits of Patient Satisfaction Surveys

First and foremost, satisfied patients are more likely to have a continued relationship with their healthcare provider. This means that they are more likely to comply with taking prescribed medications, make lifestyle changes as recommended by their physician, and otherwise follow their doctor’s overall treatment plan. The end result is a healthier patient.

As patients spread the word about the quality of health care they received from their provider, it has a ripple effect which brings in more patients to that medical practice or hospital. For today's healthcare environment that offers patients choices, word-of-mouth referral is a welcome opportunity to losing patients to the medical practice down the road.

Patient satisfaction surveys also enable healthcare providers to identify patient process issues and take swift action to correct them. It highlights areas where the practice can be more efficient and effective. In addition, when healthcare staff can take great pride in the quality of care they provide to their patients, it results in a more satisfied workforce, and potentially decreased employee turnover.

Financial speaking, highly satisfied patients can mean less malpractice claims, higher reimbursement rates from payers, and an overall increased return on investment (ROI).

The Logistics of the Patient Satisfaction Survey

Implementing a patient satisfaction survey in your practice doesn’t have to be an elaborate process, at least initially. A simple survey form can be handed out to each patient, and collected at the end of their appointment. Alternatively, the survey can be emailed to each patient or a quick phone call to the patient in the days following the appointment can accomplish the same results. Just a few simple questions on the services provided, communication received, and treatments administered can provide valuable insight into how your practice is perceived in the eyes of your patients.

Final Thoughts

The Affordable Care Act put the consumer in charge of their healthcare. A transition is underway, transforming healthcare to a consumers’ market from a seller’s market. Medical practices and hospitals need to embrace this transformation and implement patient satisfaction surveys to achieve better patient satisfaction scores and realize all the accompanying benefits that go along with them.

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