All successful physicians listen to their patients. Do you? Are you tracking what is most important to your patients and responding to their concerns accordingly? Can you identify the key drivers to overall patient satisfaction and retention? Do you have access to benchmarks to know how your practice compares to other similar practices?
If you answered "no" to any of these questions, you will want to read this article, which focuses on the importance of patient satisfaction. We interviewed John Goodman, a founder and vice chairman of TARP Worldwide, which was started at Harvard 37 years ago. This organization quantifies the level of problems in hospitals and large medical practices, evaluates the revenues at risk, and suggests simple fixes that help improve patient satisfaction. TARP also has helped organizations from Lexus to Neiman Marcus with similar needs.
Misconceptions about patients
Why is patient satisfaction so vital to the success of a urologist's practice? Most industries have readily accepted that improved customer service will lead to increased customer loyalty, increased revenue, and an enhanced bottom line. According to Goodman, the health care industry has lagged in accepting this concept for several reasons:
Truth be told, a urology practice is no different from any other business when it comes to the care of customers. Patients tell two to four times as many family, friends, and neighbors about a negative experience than they tell about a positive one, Goodman says.
Dissatisfaction: the silent killer
Problems also make self-pay patients much more sensitive to price. The patient who has had to wait or who encounters a rude appointments clerk is twice as likely to think your bill is unreasonable as the patient who had a good experience is. The latter patient exhibits what Goodman calls the Neiman Marcus effect: "You're expensive, but you're worth it."
Further, you probably don't know about the problems that do exist because patients are reticent to complain for four reasons:
That means more patients are having a negative experience with our practices than we hear about, unfortunately by a large margin.
In addition, patients who have a negative experience are likely to leave the practice. In fact, dissatisfied patients are four times more likely to seek care elsewhere. This is why you don't have the luxury of allowing patients to be dissatisfied with the services offered at your practice.
Complaints are also unpleasant for staff to handle, and many staff members leave when they encounter a number of complaints, saying, "I'm not getting paid enough to take all this stuff." However, if they are equipped to prevent and handle issues, they feel more in control and are much less likely to leave.