Stephanie McMullin, Senior Risk Management and Patient Safety Specialist for the Cooperative of American Physicians, Inc. (CAP).
Despite the enormous amount of knowledge that was imparted upon you during your education, perhaps one of the most important elements of maintaining a successful practice was, most likely, barely touched upon. The concept of quality health care is not complete without a rigorous discussion of patient satisfaction. A good physician/patient relationship is a crucial element of a successful practice. The fact that patients do not complain does not necessarily mean they are satisfied with the care they are receiving.
The Necessity for a Patient Satisfaction Survey
Let’s face it: In the big picture, seemingly no matter which profession, a majority of complaints to licensing boards does not revolve around specific ‘practice-based’ issues. Instead, those complaints tend to be based on “client-expectation” issues. From this, we can make the claim that happy clients do not tend to complain. If your practice can meet your patients’ expectations then your patients will more than likely react favorably by continuing their relationship with your practice, and perhaps even recommend your practice to a friend. The best method to gauge your patients’ opinion of their experience is to ask them, and by far the most cost effective method of achieving that is by a properly constructed and thoroughly analyzed patient satisfaction survey.
The Objections to a Patient Satisfaction Survey
Certainly, there are what some see as “legitimate” objections to the patient satisfaction survey. Certainly high on that list would be the issue of cost. If your practice is a member of a medical malpractice insurance organization, it’s possible that the administration and analysis of a patient satisfaction survey is a member service, available to the practice for no additional cost. If not, there are independent consulting firms that can work with your practice to design and analyze a survey. Additional costs that would be incurred would include staff time necessary to distribute and collect the survey.