Research shows that physicians can increase patient satisfaction rates by improving the way they interact with patients in five key areas:
1. Expectations. Take a moment at the start of the visit to ask patients what they want from the visit. Patients often come to their physician seeking information or assurance, not just a specific action, and may leave unsatisfied because of unvoiced desires.
2. Communication. Communicate in a more positive manner. Patients are more likely to view their visit experience positively if they feel their physician took their problem seriously, clearly explained the condition, tried to understand their background, and offered practical medical advice.
3. Control. Relinquish some control over the visit, and practice shared decision making. Patients who are allowed to express their ideas, concerns, and expectations tend to be more satisfied and more likely to follow their physicians’ advice.
4. Time spent. Satisfaction rates improve as visit length increases. But even if you can’t spend more time with your patients, you can make the time feel more satisfying. For example, spend at least part of your time chatting with the patient to build a connection.
5. Appearance. Patients in one study indicated that they prefer physicians who dress in semiformal attire, rather than a white coat, suit, or casual attire. They also like to see a physician wearing a name badge – and a smile.
Adapted from “What Do We Really Know About Patient Satisfaction.”
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