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Are your patients satisfied with your surgery?


Patients choose their care centre by evaluating the quality of the service not the quality of nursing care, says RN Jennifer Ward

The quality of service often determines which care centre or practice a patient will choose. The quality of service is much easier to evaluate than the expertise of the physician or nurse. 

Practitioners depend on satisfied patients to give out word-of-mouth referrals. If patients have complaints, they will not only leave your service, but they will complain to others about the care received. Because patient satisfaction is so important, many hospitals and office practices have started publishing the results of patient satisfaction surveys. If the scores are positive, it will attract other patients, but if the scores are low, it will motivate nurses and physicians to improve their practice.

It is especially important that patients are satisfied with the nursing care because they see more of their nurses than they do of their physicians. And, nurses set the stage for the hospital stay or office visit.  

1. Set standards:  Before setting out to improve patient satisfaction, it is important to define everyone’s expectations. All employees can be involved the process. For instance, the admissions coordinator could aim to be cordial and comforting to patients. Unlicensed staff might be asked to respond quickly to calls.   You might like to set the standard in your practice that call bells will be answered in a timely fashion; or when someone comes in to an office practice, they will be greeted in a friendly and professional manner. 

2. Involve everyone:  Patient satisfaction involves everyone. Improving patient satisfaction scores might begin with asking all staff members (i.e. unit clerks, transportation team members, dietary staff, etc) to make recommendations about their own areas. 

e.g. Telephone etiquette: Answering the telephone in a polite and professional manner is important for all staff to remember. Telephone greetings can set the stage for the practice experience.

3. Be clear: Develop standards that can be easily understood.  E.g. make it a uniform standard that all breakfast trays will be delivered by 8:30 a.m. Some other examples include:

  1. Listen to patients without interrupting
  2. Explain to patients what they can expect from their treatment
  3. Use the patient’s name at least once during the conversation.
  4. Respect Patient Confidentiality
  5. Greet the patient in a timely fashion when they arrive, and say, “Goodbye” to them at the time of discharge

Satisfying our patients is a fluid process; it demands consistent revisiting and evaluating. If one customer is dissatisfied, you can evaluate why that experience happened, and then strive to improve. Similarly, if patient satisfaction scores are good one quarter it can be easy to be complacent and assume that they will remain that way, but they might not.

Making our patients happy can make us happy too.


Readers' comments (5)

  • "... patient satisfaction is so important..."
    since when has this been the case in the NHS?

    "Practitioners depend on satisfied patients to give out word-of-mouth referrals..."

    you are running a healthcare service not a business!

    "Some other examples include: ..........."

    Is this another supermarket staff smile course?

    "...all breakfast trays will be delivered by 8:30 a.m."

    to whom, staff patients, or both. I was not aware that surgeries now offer breakfast as well! Must get an earlier appt. next time!
    "Before setting out to improve patient satisfaction"

    this is a given, that patients will receive optimal care

    "Making our patients happy can make us happy too"

    oh dear, we are there to care for our patients in a professional manner, not make them happy. how about some toys and some sweeties in the wating room for that.

    sounds as though somebody has been on a general management course with the directors of the UBS - 'happy customer, happy bank'.

    who wrote this article?

    now please think again about professionalism in meeting the clinical needs of the patient instead of smile courses of general management for the production industry sector staff.

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  • in addition to my last comment, i chose my gp practice as it is the only one with parking and thus the only one i can get to. as their expertise is rather doubtful i do not go there unless there is no alternative.

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  • I'm not a practice nurse but I found your article Jennifer to be totally condescending!

    I agree with Anonymous 8-Jun-2011 re breakfast...that's a new one on me as well, mind you by the time you get an appointment to see your preferred GP the orange juice and croissants will have passed their 'eat by' date

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  • Anonymous | 9-Jun-2011 11:05 am

    "I'm not a practice nurse but I found your article Jennifer to be totally condescending!"

    as writer of the first two comments, I am not a practice nurse either. i am not sure who the article is written for but it gives the impression that registered nurses learnt nothing in school or during their training!
    there need to be better ways to control quality standards in gp practices or 'surgeries' as you quaintly refer to them.

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  • Hi Jennifer, I disagree with most of your dare I say essay as it is not a research paper. Most people choose their surgery within easy distance of their home, parking and opening hours also play a part in the choice.

    I would prefer someone who is professional and has good knowledge in general practice than someone who will smile like an idiot at me.

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