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Editor's Note: This blog was published prior to the transition to WebMD Ignite.

Patient satisfaction is something that every hospital should provide. It not only leads to an enhanced experience, but also improves the overall treatment outcome. Patients and their doctors may view the same episodes of care differently. Without proper satisfaction measures, we are left with an incomplete picture or a misleading idea of what quality care is. Without asking individuals directly for their feedback, it is very hard to accurately assess what their perception of care is, what is important to them, how well they are receiving care and what additional factors could be improved upon. Knowledge of patient satisfaction is crucial in understanding the experience and evaluating the effectiveness of treatment. This knowledge helps patients make informed decisions, and helps physicians practice medicine effectively.

Remember, happy patients do not take up physician and staff time complaining. Sincerity and consistency is crucial to assure individuals that they are respected and well cared for.

Here are 7 Tips physicians and providers can utilize to improve patient satisfaction:

  1. Address each person individually. Use the patient’s name, it shows connection and understanding.
  2. Personalize staff. Wear easy to read name tags. The objective is to give the patient something better to say than “Hey you,” if they need assistance. Personalizing staff makes them more approachable to the patient if he/she has any questions.
  3. Make eye contact. Always look your patients directly in the eye when you are speaking or listening to them. This shows you are paying attention and are completely engaged. It will also provides you with the opportunity to pick up on any body language that you might have otherwise missed.
  4. Provide prompt service. Answer call button requests promptly and be quick with your response time. No patient likes to wait longer than expected, and how the wait is handled impacts patient satisfaction. Simple steps to show you value their time can go a long way in easing their frustration.
  5. Communicate clearly. Let the patient know what to expect. Explain any upcoming procedures clearly, and use this time to go over pre- and post- care instructions.
  6. Appropriately handle complaints. Every single member of the hospital staff needs to know how to handle concerns and complaints. If you are unable to answer a question, an appropriate response is “I will find you the right person to whom you can address your concern.”
  7. Provide appropriate discharge instructions. At the end of the patient’s stay, provide them with clear discharge instructions, educational materials and a Patient Discharge Checklist with instructions for accessing reliable, and accurate health and patient education resources at home. The ability to reference materials will help patients manage their condition once they return home.