With the NHS under increased scrutiny, the discussion at many hospitals and practices has turned to “patient-as-consumer” models of healthcare and whether improving patient satisfaction is an effective way to minimise churn.
Now, the British Social Attitudes survey shows public satisfaction with GPs is at an all-time low (65%) and dissatisfaction with the NHS is at its highest in a decade (29%). It’s hardly surprising then that demand for private healthcare has nearly doubled in the last five years.
To combat this increased patient churn, practices and hospitals are developing strategies to boost patient satisfaction. That is, instead of just providing all the necessary elements for good healthcare experiences, they are identifying ways to improve the delivery of those experiences.
How You Can Improve Patient Satisfaction?
This will vary from patient to patient, and the only way to know what's important to your patients, is to ask them.
However, research on patient satisfaction provides a general idea of how you can improve it. For example, a recent survey conducted by Kelton Global and West, asked patients how healthcare providers can improve patient satisfaction. Of all the patients surveyed:
- 50% said shorter wait times
- 41% said making it easier to book appointments
- 39% said improving interpersonal or communication skills
- 38% said offering more clarity on available services
- 27% said providing more modern facilities
But how can you address these issues using practical real-world solutions?
1) Use Digital Screens to Better Manage Longer Wait Times
Unfortunately, queues and waiting times will always be a problematic feature of healthcare because there simply isn’t a way ensure every single appointment and examination ends on time. Nonetheless, 97% of patients are frustrated by waiting in hospitals.
While it might not solve the issue, simple communication can be key to minimising the frustration patients feel.
Displaying waiting times on digital screens is a fuss-free way to tackle the problem, since unexplained waits feel up to 35% longer than explained waits. Giving your patients up-to-the-minute information can therefore help alleviate anxiety, reduce frustration, and make waits feel shorter.
Hospital or practice staff simply recognising and addressing the issue can also help improve patient satisfaction when there are long waiting times. For example, something as simple as a genuine apology from a doctor proves enough for 70% of patients.
2) Implement Queue Management Systems
The days of patients having to wait in a line to check in with a receptionist are coming to an end, thanks to the proliferation of comprehensive queue management technology – from digital check-in kiosks to automated patient calling systems.
Introducing this technology to your practice or hospital helps reduce congestion at reception and waiting areas, as well as freeing up staff to concentrate on clerical and administrative tasks, or even get involved in jobs that focus solely on increasing patient satisfaction.
Queue management systems are now so advanced they’re able to manage multiple queues, capture patient data and deliver surveys across an entire network of sites.
3) Introduce Digital Appointment Management
Booking an appointment shouldn’t mean having to ring your practice at the break of dawn to snag a slot as part of some first-come-first-served battle royale. We can pay our bills with a single tap, settle a bill with a smile, and most of us chat with robots every day – so why is it still such a hassle to book a healthcare appointment?
Whether it’s via online patient portals or mobile apps, many healthcare providers are committing to making it easier and more convenient to book appointments.
What’s even better is they’re also going digital with their communications too. SMS reminders a few days before an appointment are helping to cut down on wasted appointment slots, emails are reminding patients about local health initiatives and push-notifications from apps are ensuring patients don’t run out of medication.
4) Provide Access to More Modern Facilities
Automated queue management. Digital displays. Touchscreen check-in kiosks. Mobile healthcare apps. The majority of the technology we’ve mentioned in this article is likely to make an improvement to your waiting room.
One sure-fire way to bring your facility into the 21st-century is by putting the digital media player and internet connectivity that comes built in to most digital screens to good use.
Many practices and hospitals now use their screens to display news feeds, live TV, social media channels or a wide variety of NHS-approved content – ensuring patients are entertained and informed.
5) Provide More Clarity on Services
The healthcare industry is hectic, and sometimes it can be easy to overlook the fact that not all patients are aware of how many treatments and tests can now be performed at their local surgery rather than at a hospital.
Digital display screens normally come equipped with the ability to broadcast your own content, which is a great way to let everybody know all of the services you’re able to offer – from flu-shots and physicals, to support groups and health schemes.
And because you’re in control of what’s being shown on the screens and when, you can more effectively target patients. If you run a weekly flu clinic for OAPs, this is the perfect time for you to advertise local exercise classes for older people, classic film clubs and bereavement support groups.
6) Make Sure You’re Measuring Patient Satisfaction
The most effective way to improve patient satisfaction is simply by actually measuring it.
It may sound obvious, but many healthcare providers are fumbling around in the dark trying to ensure patients are more satisfied with their experience without asking patients how they feel or what’s important to them.
Regular patient surveys are the only way to ensure your efforts to improve patient satisfaction are having the intended effect. Sadly, it isn’t always easy to encourage patients to fill out questionnaires, and analysing the data yourself can be extremely time-consuming.
Whether you’re aiming to improve patient satisfaction, boost patient experience or simply collect patient information, integrating patient survey solutions like the Jayex Enlighten module empowers patients to answer surveys in a few taps of a touchscreen. And Enlighten contains data analytic software to help you extract meaningful insights from the answers.
View our latest infographic to find out how you can solve your patient experience problems.Back to blog