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9 Tips To Improve Patient Satisfaction

Some interesting points were raised at a recent Society of Hospital Medicine (SHM) session by Winthrop Whitcomb and Nancy Mihevc on patient satisfaction. To improve satisfaction scores:

1. Review the patient’s chart before you go in the room. It makes a big difference if the patient perceives you know what’s going on without having to bury your face in a chart.

2. Patients are often confused about who they are supposed to see after discharge. This, of course, is a safety issue as well as one that affects patient satisfaction.

3. Sit down when you are visiting a patient. Patients are happiest when they perceive you’ve spent enough time with them, and they are more likely to perceive this if you are sitting than standing with your hand on the doorknob.

4. Patients are often unclear about the primary care physician (PCP)-hospitalist relationship. Dr. Whitcomb suggested using this script right off the bat: “Hi, I’m Dr. ____. I take care of Dr. _____’s patients while they are in the hospital. The way we communicate about your care is _____. (eg: We are both connected to the same EMR; we talk on the phone…). The advantages to our partnership are _____.”

5. Hand out a brochure with pictures and FAQs on the patient’s condition. Give him or her your card to contact you with questions post-discharge.

6. If the patient is going to be handed off to another hospitalist, tell him/her in advance.

7. Conclude your encounter with an open-ended question.

8. When giving patients surveys, make sure they understand which doctor they are rating. Many assume they are rating the emergency department (ED) doc when it’s meant to be the hospitalist. It’s a good idea to give a photo along with the name of the doctor being rated.

9. When sending patient satisfaction surveys to patients who have been discharged, you can increase your response rate by customizing a personal letter to them– for example, by including their dates of care, and using real postage stamps instead of a machine stamp. It works.

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Hospitalist*

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