Keeping the customer satisfied is the foundation of a successful business model. And with the advent of the Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law a little over five years ago, it has increased in importance. As greater responsibility is placed on health care providers to maintain the health of their patient population throughout the year, building a stronger relationship with the patient is a necessity. At the same time, patients are being asked to take responsibility for their own health and are shown the impact of health-related decisions on their pocketbooks. So being able to work well with a health care provider is essential to them as well.
For decades, health care entities have been conducting patient satisfaction surveys to determine how they are performing on a wide variety of metrics. Wilmington Health has a survey that breaks these issues down into “actionable” items in the areas of staff interaction, appointment times, wait times and, of course, overall care. We work with staff and providers to develop methods and processes that can improve the overall patient experience before, during and after the visit. You’re probably saying, “So what? How does your patient satisfaction data do anything for me or my employees?” Because the relationship that you build with your provider could be one of the most relevant factors in keeping you and your employees on the road to good health and reducing your health care expenses.
Let’s think about this a bit more from the perspective of one of my recent Insights, Why Going to the Doctor Can Save You Money. In that article, I provided four specific issues that show how routine checkups and screenings provide an opportunity to save you money: 1) identifying current health issues, 2) discussing potential health issues, 3) developing a care plan that is clear and consistent and 4) checking progress on previous care plans for improvement. But to effectively get through these four steps, a person must find a primary care provider with whom he or she feels comfortable and can speak with openly and honestly. Which brings us back to the importance of a patient’s satisfaction with the provider he or she chooses.
So how does one go about choosing a provider? Many people talk with their friends and family or venture online. At Wilmington Health, we have a very strong belief in providing true health care transparency, which includes our patients’ satisfaction with our doctors and our services. We’re trying to make this decision easier for new patients by making our physicians’ patient satisfaction and online ratings available directly on our doctors’ profile pages on our website. In addition, many of our doctors have created videos for their web profile pages, so patients can learn more about a doctor’s personality and interests before an appointment or before even choosing a doctor. And soon, we’ll be putting up quality data on individual doctor’s pages to see how they perform in taking care of your health needs. All of these items have grown from the need for a stronger relationship between the doctor and the patient to achieve better health for the individual, improve the overall health of the community, and in the long run reduce the dollars spent on health care.
For many years, organizations have been collecting patient satisfaction data, and as more information and power to control your health care is put into your hands, shouldn’t you be asking for the complete picture and providing every resource available to your employees to make sound health care decisions? For the providers, patient satisfaction plays a vital role in getting you the best health care by providing feedback as to what their patients want and need, as well as concrete areas where they can improve their practices. For the patient, these same satisfaction scores can effectively support your decision to choose a provider that will best meet your and your employees’ health needs and be a good medical partner in keeping everyone on the right path.
Patient satisfaction is one of many factors that will continue to improve the overall quality of the health care interaction. Our objective is to give patients every opportunity to make sound health care decisions and advance the quality of health care in our region. So the next time someone calls you and asks about your recent visit to the doctor, please take part in the survey. We care about you and value your input.
Jeff James is the chief executive officer at Wilmington Health and part of the team of providers and staff driving change in the health care system to reduce cost, improve quality and enhance the patient experience. Since 1971, Wilmington Health has been committed to the care and health of its community in Wilmington as well as all of southeastern North Carolina. Wilmington Health is structured as a multispecialty clinic with primary care providers integrated into the system. In this way, Wilmington Health is able to provide a comprehensive and coordinated approach to the care of all its patients. For more information go to http://www.wilmingtonhealth.com/compare.
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