3 Factors That Affect Patient Satisfaction

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As healthcare models become more patient-centric, the concept of patient satisfaction is increasingly important. Metrics for success are no longer just about giving the best care possible, but also ensuring patients are content with the services you offer.

But what determines patient satisfaction? Here are three of the most important factors to focus on.

3 Crucial Factors That Affect Patient Satisfaction

1. Waiting Times

The NHS has some of the world’s most ambitious standards for waiting times, combined with pressures that range from reduced funding and staff shortages to an ageing population and, most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a result, patients wait longer to receive the treatment they need. The four-hour waiting time standard for A&E services hasn’t been met since July 2015. And the number of people waiting for four hours or longer reached a record high of 33.8% in August 2021.

Waiting times have a major influence on how happy patients are with your services. Patients rank short waiting times for appointments as the top determining factor for patient satisfaction. 30% of patients say they have walked out of a doctor’s appointment because of a long wait, and 1 in 5 have even switched doctors due to long practice wait times.

Discover how to craft the perfect patient satisfaction survey. Download our  guide now. 

2. Communication

Effective communication between staff and patients is vital to a great patient experience and therefore, patient satisfaction.

In 2015, communication errors were behind a third of all hospital complaints.

In 2019, 23% of patients from three NHS Trusts identified concerns about their care. The biggest category of concerns related to communication.

In Q2 of 2021, the largest proportion of complaints towards NHS Hospital and Community Health Services (by subject) were about communication. 71% of these complaints referred to issues between the hospital and the patient or their family.

Communication problems can occur at different points in the patient’s journey. This isn’t just about in-person communication between patients and staff, but wider communication between patients and the wider practice as well. For example:

  • The reason for a half-hour delay to an appointment isn’t effectively communicated to a patient in the waiting room.
  • Treatment options or next steps for follow-up care aren’t conveyed clearly enough by a clinician during a consultation.
  • A receptionist is unwelcoming at the front desk or gives unhelpful instructions to a patient over the phone.
  • A patient’s medical records aren’t updated consistently or accurately in the central database, causing confusion when they’re passed from one clinician to another.

3. Flexibility

Digital technology has changed consumer expectations around how services are delivered.

Patients want agency and choice over how, where, and when they engage with healthcare services. They expect flexibility and convenience, so services can fit around their busy lives, not the other way around.

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this shift, particularly in the use of telehealth. Telehealth use is 38 times higher than before the pandemic. And 80% of patients are likely to have another virtual visit, even post COVID-19.

Online services are key to delivering flexible service. 68% of patients say they’re more likely to choose a medical provider that offers the ability to book, change, or cancel appointments online. And online portals offer patients the convenience of ordering repeat subscriptions and accessing their healthcare information anytime, anywhere.

Discover How to Boost Your Patient Satisfaction Scores

Patient satisfaction can be highly subjective. If you’re looking to raise your satisfaction scores, the three points above are a good place to start – but factors that delight and frustrate patients will differ from practice to practice.

To really understand what your patients think about your services, you need feedback gathered from patient satisfaction surveys. This will give you the data and insight you need to identify trends and make informed decisions about where you need to improve.

How to craft the perfect patient satisfaction survey

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