How A Doctor’s Perception of Patients Can Impact Patient Satisfaction

September 26, 2017
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Some doctors only focus on a patient’s physical health, but physicians need to pay attention to more than the physical needs of a patient. Providing care to patients is not just about why they are visiting the care center; it also deals with nurturing the patient as well. This is especially important because patient satisfaction is playing a bigger role in the medical industry. 

Patient Satisfaction Matters 

The happiness of a patient was not something that doctors and care centers had to worry about too much before, but that is changing. The government, for example, considers some of these survey results to decide how much a hospital should get paid for their services. Knowing this makes it imperative that a hospital, doctors, and nurses take the overall satisfaction of a patient to heart. 

Why Changing Patient Perception Matters 

You can do a lot to change a patient’s perception of your care center, like hiring doctors and nurses that understand patient care. You can also train your personnel to pay attention to patients by avoiding using their cell phones or computers while listening to a patient. 

Of course, you also need to consider providing everything that a patient expects, which should be helpful. According to negotiation specialists Shapiro Negotiations “In order to get what you want help them get what they want.” The question boils down to knowing what patients want from you and begin to integrate those needs into your overall care parameters. 

Patients Do Not Want to Wait Long 

You can find out what patients want by using surveys to get an idea of the kind of care that they are expecting. This might not be surprising, but one of the issues that most patients have is wait times. In fact, Becher’s Healthcare, a medical news publication, reported that 97% of patients are frustrated with wait time and that 40% would be willing to see another physician in exchange for a shorter visit.

It is important to let go of the idea that your time, as a doctor, is worth more than your patients. Understanding that time is precious to everyone, and being conscious of your patients’ time is of the utmost importance. Decreasing the amount of time a patient waits to be cared for is not so much about reducing how long they wait but rather making the patient believe they are waiting less time. 

The following are just some suggestions that might help: 

  • Setting a time marker in each room that will tell nurses and doctors how long a patient has been waiting. This allows the care representative to apologize and be specific.
  • Spreading the preliminary checks to reduce wait time. Check blood pressure first; then have them wait to check weight and measurements. Breaking up preliminary checks makes patients believe that their visit is moving along.
  • Have care representatives constantly check in with patients waiting to update them on what is keeping the doctor.

Patients Like a Pleasant Environment 

You might think this makes your patients seem picky, but you have to put yourself in the position of a patient who is feeling sick or nervous and is waiting to be cared for. This patient might become irritable for any number of reasons, including the environment of the hospital and the message it communicates to them.

 
Of all the environmental factors within a practice, the easiest to improve is the staff’s body language. Studies show that 55% of communication is non-verbal. In other words, the gestures, facial expressions, and posture of doctors and nurses can have a greater impact on a patient’s perception than the words being said. In order to improve your staff’s body language, a recent article by online marketing platform PatientPop provided these recommendations:
  • When speaking with a patient, hold eye contact 50% of the time. When listening, maintain eye contact 70% of the time.
  • Instead of standing over a patient, put yourself on their level. Sit in a chair across from the patient, so that the two of you are eye to eye.
  • Maintain a relaxed posture, but sit up with your head tall and shoulders back. Lean slightly forward so as to convey an interest in what the patient has to say.

Many surveys have shown that a care center’s environment impacts a patient’s perception of the facility. This is why upgrading the care center with up-to-date amenities like televisions or even games for the kids might be a good idea. It is important to keep the floors and doors clean to keep up appearances. 

Noise is perhaps one of the most stressing problems for patients, which is why you want to use music that is loud enough to muffle out other sounds yet remains pleasant. This could include classical or nature-like sounds to keep the environment pleasant. You can also use natural cleaners, especially if it contains lavender scents since lavender helps reduce anxiety. 

As you can see, there is much that can be done to improve a patient’s overall perception of you, your staff, and care center as long as you pay attention.

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