1st Pillar (Part 3): How an Improved Patient Satisfaction Impacts Your Bottom Line
Patient satisfaction and the bottom line of your hospital or medical clinic is directly linked with each other. The more satisfied your patients feel during their visit, the more your bottom line improves. The improved level of satisfaction should also reflect in your HCAHPS scores, which is a deciding factor for your hospital’s reimbursement. Read here in detail about how you can improve HCAHPS scores for your hospital or medical practice. An improved patient satisfaction will help you achieve these for your healthcare business: improving outcomes, reducing costs, and delivering a more delightful healthcare experience to people. [We've already discussed in detail about the importance of patient satisfaction, and ways to improve it in the part 1 and part 2 of the 1st pillar (a satisfied and loyal patient base) in this 3 pillars of healthcare marketing success blog series. This is the 3rd and the last part of the 1st pillar].
It's All About Improving Patient Experience
We've already discussed in the second part of the “1st pillar” blogs, patient satisfaction refers to the level of contentment patients have for one or more aspects of care. But where are these feelings of contentment derived from? It’s the patient experience. Patients have a choice now, and they expect an exceptional customer service from your medical staff. The customer service duties start right when your patients have entered your door. According to Accenture Consulting, superior patient experiences can increase net margins by 50%, regardless of the size, type or location of the medical practice. By providing an unmatched experience to your patients for their money and needs, you can also improve your profit margins. For improving your patients’ experiences, you can do the following:
- Visit your own clinic as a patient and follow all the due processes just like your patients do. This will let you experience firsthand about how your patients feel when they visit you.
- Improve on processes like scheduling appointments, wait times, etc. to make your patients feel that you're rushing them through appointments.
- Hold employee appreciation programs to engage employees, improve productivity, and motivate them to provide better customer service. Provide excellence awards to employees who are doing exceptional jobs.
- Hire the right staff who will help your patients feel comfortable and taken care of. Most of the complaints are related to poor experiences with the staff even though they have nothing to do with the physicians and treatment provided.
Remember, the timely, efficient, and patient-centered approach to providing healthcare is what directly influence satisfaction.
How an Improved Patient Experience Adds to the Bottom Line
In this value-based and patient-centric care, an improved patient experience is the key to an improved bottom line to your hospital or medical practice. Although patient satisfaction scores account for only 30% of the part of decision made about hospital reimbursements, the financial health of your entire business depends on how reputable you are in providing the best-in-class patient experience. A superior patient experience leads to bottom line improvements through patients, staff, and through improving on cost and efficiency. Let's check how:
- Improved patient outcomes: Patients who are satisfied with your quality of care are more likely to adhere to the treatment plan and maintain their relationship with you over the long haul. Improved patient outcomes will spread out to other patients which will drive them directly to you in their time of need.
- Higher satisfaction scores: Satisfied patients will give you good scores in surveys which will decide how fairly your hospital or medical practice should be reimbursed. High satisfaction scores will also reflect in your publicly reported overall rating by Medicare.
- Increased patient referrals: Patients who are satisfied with your service will revisit you every time they need care. They will also recommend you to their friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues. This will create a consistent base of revenue for your medical practice.
- Enhanced reputation: Happy patients keep spreading good reviews about you wherever they go. Be it online (on Facebook, Twitter, or review websites) or offline (whenever they meet someone), they will keep praising you for their delight. This will build a strong reputation for you both online and in your vicinity.
- Enhanced understanding: A higher level of patient satisfaction means the staff are showing a better understanding of patients' needs and problems. This kind of pro-active approach by your staff infuses a better understanding of patients' needs and problems, and makes your practice stand out against the competition.
- Improved patient engagement: Patient engagement aims at improving health outcomes, better patient care, and lower costs. Your staff, equipped by right technological support, can help achieve these goals by engaging the patients at every step of their care.
- Higher productivity: A higher level of patient experience and satisfaction keeps your staff motivated and dedicated to keep the service quality always top notch. An improved staff productivity minimizes any scope of patient outrage and it also lowers the costs.
- Reduced employee turnover: A practice that provides higher level of patient experience is able to do so because of the dedicated team of physician and nursing staff. Staffs find themselves satisfied by providing satisfaction to the patients. Because they feel happy working in that kind of comfort zone, they usually do not want to switch the practice.
Cost & Efficiency
- Improved processes: Based on the views of your patients in the patient satisfaction surveys, you'd more likely invest in streamlining your processes. An easy appointment scheduling, shorter wait times, better in-house communication processes are what you'll have achieved because of the recommendations. A little investment on process improvement will increase your revenue by manifolds and keep it fetching for a long time.
- Reduced staff expenses: A highly motivated and efficient staff are more likely to stay for longer in the service than those who aren't happy and looking for a change. This will reduce your recruitment cost and other overhead expenses alike.
- Saved expenses on malpractice claims: An improved communication and engagement with your patients lowers the risk of being named in a malpractice claim by any patient. Staying away from these claims can save you a lot of money that you'd have given away as compensation in case you'd have lost the case. Lawsuits also degrade your reputation which can cost dearly to your healthcare business.
In the End With the introduction of value-based purchasing system in healthcare, where patients want to buy the best healthcare service for the amount of money they are paying, a satisfied and loyal patient base is the cure for your practice's plummeting health. In fact, your first and the most important job as a healthcare practitioner should be to level up the quality of care to improve patient satisfaction at each levels of your service line. By doing so, you'd have built the first pillar for the success of your healthcare business, i.e., a satisfied and loyal patient base. The next blog will start the detailed discussion over the 2nd pillar of healthcare marketing business, which is – a stellar online reputation.