Many offices are struggling with how to provide and measure quality care in order to qualify for ACA incentives. For the most part, this is unfortunate because the majority of eyecare offices pride themselves on delivering super healthcare services and products. After all, no one goes into this profession to do a lousy job. Sure, some offices provide better health services and products than others, but few are really poor. Most Americans are satisfied with their eye doctor and in their opinion, all are qualified unless they exhibit some behavior that indicates otherwise.
What’s interesting about patient satisfaction is that most of it has nothing to do with direct health services-almost all of it centers on social contact and patient perceptions. The Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), in a sample survey that it developed for its members to use, indicates this point very clearly. Of the 36 questions on the survey, only two ask about the quality of medical care received from the doctors or nurses.
MGMA’s survey focuses on six categories: the appointment, the staff, the office’s communication with the patient, the visit with the provider, the facility, and overall satisfaction. Patients are asked to rate the courtesy of the person who took their call, the friendliness of the receptionist, getting a return call in a timely manner, the patient’s ability to contact the office after hours, convenience of the office’s hours, adequate parking, among other non-medical issues.
The point is that if you want to have superior patient satisfaction, you need to focus on the customer-relations aspect of the office. I bet the doctors and staff in your office have taken plenty of continuing education courses that enhance their professional abilities but how many of them have taken patient communications, customer service, or other “soft science” skills? While they probably won’t get CE credits for this stuff, these factors are the key elements of patient satisfaction that every ECP needs to learn or risk losing patients due to poor experiences, not poor medical care. Remember that your patients are also consumers, and they will judge your practice the way they would any other purchasing experience-you have the power to make it a great one.
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