A Symbiotic Relationship: Improved Patient Experience Benefits All

Read Time: 4 minutesWhen patients come to a facility for healthcare services, a positive outcome and experience are important to both the patients and the healthcare providers. Good patient experiences have been shown to lower costs of healthcare and even improve employee engagement. Here’s how physician education may be the key to improving patient satisfaction.

Improving Patient Satisfaction Through Physician Education

What is patient experience?

Patient experience refers to all of the interactions a patient has that add up to whether or not a patient is satisfied with a healthcare experience. The term encompasses a range of factors, including whether a patient had timely access to care, easy access to information, and received thorough communication from healthcare providers. Patient experience is a critical component of an institution’s success.

How do you measure patient experience?

There are many ways to measure patient experience. However, the CAHPS survey is one critical tool which assesses patient experience and how hospitals can improve care. The survey doesn’t merely ask if patients had a positive interaction. Instead, the survey asks patients about aspects of care that are important using a consistent methodology and well-tested questions.

Why physician communication is key

One of the most critical factors of patient experience is the interactions patients have with doctors and other clinicians. While timeliness and ease of scheduling can sometimes be challenging factors to control, physicians who are well-trained in clear and effective communication can make a huge difference in patient experience scores. For example, one study found that patients overestimated the time that a physician spent at the bedside by 1.3 minutes when the physician sat down and made eye contact. In contrast, the patient underestimated the time by 0.6 minutes when the physician remained standing.

Here are some other quick tips physicians can use to improve patient communication and experience:

  • Focus on clarity and directness
  • Allow plenty of time for answering questions
  • Engage with patients and initiate contact
  • Never underestimate the power of a friendly smile or gesture

Increased satisfaction, decreased costs

Research has shown that when patients have positive interactions with clinicians, patient experience improves. This leads, in turn, to a higher rate of patients returning for follow-up care, lowered instances of complication, and reduced the overall cost of care. Having physicians who are up-to-date on best practices and have training in facilitating positive patient experiences is vital to a hospital’s overall quality of care.

Happier patients and happier physicians

Some training strategies can lead to higher patient satisfaction and increased employee engagement at the same time. For example, the Mentoring, Education, and Engagement (MEE) technique focuses on engaging clinicians in patient experience improvements. One health system who implemented the MEE technique saw patient satisfaction improve significantly. For example, when patients were asked about trust in staff members to provide care, scores raised nearly 10 points, with 79.03% of patients answering definitely yes pre-MEE to 88.77% answering definitely yes post-MEE. At the same time, employee engagement increased overall from 4.01 to 4.42.

Physician education is key

Improved patient experiences are vital to the overall well-being of a healthcare facility. The key lies in having well-trained physicians and hospitalists who understand how to communicate with patients. This leads to improved clinical outcomes, lowered costs of healthcare, and improved patient safety.