Why opt for the benefits of a quality patient experience?
As margins shrink and costs outpace revenue, enhancing the patient experience is pivotal to your services’ success and profitability. Patient satisfaction plays an increasingly important role in the quest for accountability in healthcare—accountability to payers, purchasers, accrediting agencies, and even consumers themselves.
What are the benefits of a quality patient experience and exceptional patient satisfaction for medical practices and ambulatory care?
Improved outcomes and healthier patients
The quality patient experience in medical office settings brings about optimal health outcomes. Patients are less anxious in their visits and communications with the physician and care team. The physician and other staff are more successful eliciting needed information from patients and engaging them in decisions that affect their health. Because of greater trust, they are more likely to relax and cooperate during procedures, take their medicine, adhere to their care plans and follow-up with their care. All of this adds up to healthier patients.
Patient retention, loyalty, and growth
By providing consistently satisfying patient experiences, medical practices and other ambulatory care centers win patient loyalty and become a provider of choice. Patients spread the word, which brings in even more patients—a welcome alternative to losing patients to the practice or service down the street. As people engage in provider-shopping, services that provide a quality patient experience attract new patients via positive word-of-mouth from their current patients. Also, provider scorecard initiatives are proliferating to assist purchasers in their buying decisions. Recently, 28 large U.S. employers have adopted the “Care Focused Purchasing” approach that takes into account not claims data but outcomes, patient satisfaction, and efficiency in an effort to let employers and employees make more informed healthcare choices. Providing a quality patient experience is a powerful growth strategy.
Success with accreditation and regulatory agencies
Agencies that accredit health plans now scrutinize patient satisfaction data during the accreditation process. Health plans annually measure patient satisfaction as an external review and accreditation requirement of the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), which instituted a member satisfaction survey as part of its Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) quality standards as well as the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) survey that measures the experiences of patients with their physicians and medical groups. The CAHPS Clinician & Group Survey and Ambulatory Care Survey are intended to bring transparency and standardization to the medical community, with results available to consumers, competitors, and employers through the National CAHPS Benchmarking Database.
Favored relationships with health plans
To become the plan of choice for consumers, health plans want to show high CAHPS scores to prospective customers. They know members defect when they are dissatisfied and they want to retain them in their plans, so most have instituted several incentives or sanctions—all designed to encourage practices and other ambulatory care settings to enhance the patient experience. Common approaches include:
The better a medical practice or ambulatory care center satisfies its patients, the greater negotiating power with payers.
Lower costs of doing business
By providing the exceptional patient experience, medical practices and ambulatory care centers also reduce the costs of doing business. Patients more satisfied with their experience are also less likely to file malpractice lawsuits that drain provider time, energy and coffers. Also the work climate is more satisfying to staff which in turn reduces costly staff turnover.
Reputation, pride and satisfaction
In an atmosphere of consumer savvy and scrutiny, the quality patient experience wins physicians and ambulatory care centers an admirable reputation and a grapevine that results in widespread respect in your community. Members of the care team build relationships with your patients that last. People trust the care team, and because they are more satisfied, they complain less. All of this translates into the psychic rewards of greater job satisfaction for the care team and greater pride in their impact on their patients’ health status.
By providing an exceptional patient experience, medical practices and ambulatory care centers win favor from consumers, purchasers, accrediting agencies and health plans that affect their practice’s financial health and profitability.