When asked to rate the quality of their care, patients often reflect on their service experience. They may form opinions about quality based on staff empathy, service attitude, and friendliness, as well as physician communication skills and practice efficiency. Focusing on service can produce gains in patient satisfaction. Three principles help to ensure that service quality initiatives are good for patients as well as physicians and staff:
1. Use multiple data sources to drive service improvement. A data-driven approach is crucial to improving service quality, so using valid patient satisfaction survey data and identifying additional data sources on which to base conclusions, such as employee satisfaction data, is crucial.
2. Define clear lines of accountability for service quality. Hold everyone – physicians, other providers, and staff – responsible for delivering excellent service by making it part of performance discussions. When provider data are shared at the department or organization level, blind the data to emphasize team accountability.
3. Define service values and performance standards. Key leaders and staff may define service values for the organization, such as these, which are displayed in work areas and break rooms and referenced in meetings:
Physicians, other providers, and staff should be involved in developing service standards specific to their roles (e.g., “We answer telephone calls in three rings with a consistent greeting” or “We listen to patients without interrupting them”).
Read the full FPM article: “Seven Principles for Improving Service and Patient Satisfaction.”
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