Whether we like it or not, health care is also about customer service. The diagnosis is not the only thing that patients are concerned about; in fact, there are some areas of concern that tend to show up over and over again on patient satisfaction surveys. According to the Cleveland Clinic survey, 85% of patients said there was at least one aspect about their doctor’s office that aggravated them.
Here are the most common areas of irritation and solutions on how to fix them:
1. Long wait to get an appointment: Only 43 per cent of Canadians can get a same- or next-day appointment with their family doctor. With more strategic scheduling, practices can reduce bottlenecks and get patients seen sooner.
2. Long waits at the office: Returning to the Cleveland Clinic’s survey, they found that the top frustration among survey respondents was long wait times in the office, with 47 percent stating that it was an issue. The solution lies mostly in team-based care, which enhances office efficiency and appropriate delegation. Another simple tip, keeping patients better informed of wait times can help reduce frustration.
3. Feeling rushed: No want wants to feel rushed; they want to make sure that their concerns are validated. Sensing the doctor was in a hurry is a common complaint. The easiest way to make patients feel heard is to sit down and listen.
4. Having to repeat their story multiple times: The Cleveland Clinic found that 12 percent of those surveyed complained they had to repeat themselves. The key to solve this is in streamlining medical records electronically, giving the whole team access to the information without the patient having to say it over-and-over.
5. Unclear follow-up plans: Four percent of patients said that they were irritated that they left the appointment without some kind of follow-up plan. Make sure to help set a plan and health goals for the patient between appointments.
6. Difficulty contacting their doctors between appointments: Does a direct line of contact exist with your patients? Thirteen percent of respondents feel more positive about the doctor-patient relationship when they can exchange secure messages with their physicians.
Though most of these gripes came from south of the border, many can be found in Canada as well. The good news for Canadian physicians is that Canadians are happy with the quality of care they’re getting once they see you. Seventy-four per cent rated the care they received as “very good” or “excellent”, a number much higher than the international average.
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