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Patient Satisfaction

Patient Satisfaction

Patient satisfaction is a measure of the extent to which a patient is content with the health care which they receive from their health care provider.  In evaluations of health care quality, patient satisfaction is a performance indicator. Patient satisfaction affects clinical outcomes, patient retention, and medical malpractice claims. It affects the timely, efficient, and patient-centered delivery of quality health care. If health systems want to improve the patient experience, they need to put the patients first and at the center of everything they do. Satisfied patients will share their positive experience with five others, on average, and dissatisfied patients complain to nine (or more) other people.

It is necessary because patients are more likely to re-visit the doctor who was sympathetic and keen to treat them as compared to a cold and distant doctor, even though the doctor with distant attitude might be providing them with good treatment. However, if satisfaction comes at the cost of patient wellness, then ethically doctor first needs to focus on patient health. Therefore, it is necessary to maintain a proper balance between the quality of care provided and patient satisfaction. Patient Satisfaction has to be always secondary to make the patient healthy again.

The troika of knowledge–skills–intelligence is basic to deliver satisfactory performance by a doctor. Listening is a critical skill for a doctor to diagnose an aliment or win the trust of the patient and his relatives. It is also essential for a healthcare personnel to understand the patient’s concerns, feelings, thoughts and perceptions accurately to know the core message that the patient is conveying and what are the feelings that the patients is experiencing. In India, there are now more and frequent incidents of violence being unleashed on healthcare workers by disgruntled patients’ relatives. Most of these issues could be nipped in the bud if the interacting doctors were to identify the core issues, thereby provide patient satisfaction. The following attitudes are most essential to give satisfaction;

Understanding and Supportive

One eminent doctor stated in a national conference held at Chandigarh that ‘when we were small we were fed by our parents and that now we are grownups we are fed by our patients’.  Hence, maintaining a helpful attitude and behaving in a way that is considerate and respectful to the patient is necessary. We need to convey that not only are we interested in the patients’ problems but will do our best to take care of them. The doctor needs to understand that patients can be very valuable sources of knowledge, if you’re willing to tap into them. Some of them are extremely intelligent and have great analytical skills, which they can apply to their medical problem as well. If the doctor keeps the channels of communication open, and tell patients it’s okay to make mistakes provided they share them with doctor, one may realize that even though the patient made a mistake, the outcome really wasn’t bad at all – or perhaps was even better.

 

Listening the Whole Message

The next critical attitude is to listen to the whole message and not just the parts that matter. Doctors interrupt and cut them off in mid-sentence, ask pointed clinical questions that enable them to diagnose accurately. However, the patients want more; they want to be listened to, and if they do not take care of this need, they must be prepared for a less-than-satisfied patient. This feeling of not being listened to leads patients to be anxious, fearful and doubtful of the diagnosis and treatment, as they are not sure that the doctor has properly understood their problems.

Being Non-judgmental

The physician’s role does not enable them to pass judgment on their patients. It takes them away from their role of taking care of them. Most of them in the doctor community are intelligent; socially active, aware and highly opinionated, but they do not realize how easily we carry these opinions into their practices. When they are judgmental, they listen with a filter of their disapproval and bias, and hence, listening is incomplete and ineffective. Being judgmental builds a barrier between the patient and doctor, preventing them from creating an environment of mutual faith and trust.

Developing the Desire to Listen

This is the most essential attitude that doctors need to develop to be effective and powerful listeners. Because without an inner desire, listening can and will not happen. This desire can arise from two motivations—either they are concerned and would like to limit the losses that they have incurred because of not listening, or they want to gain by becoming effective listeners.  Healthcare would be looked upon by less mistrust if doctors develop a desire to listen and became active listeners.

Build partnership with the patient

It is important to make the patient part of decisions taken in respect to their treatment. This can be achieved by informing the patient in general language about their current medical condition, explain them about the different treatment options available, suggesting the best treatment option for their condition, and instructing them steps to follow the treatment through.

Maintain positive Attitude

It is always important to maintain a positive attitude when treating your patient. This will create a positive impression in your patient’s mind and increase their satisfaction about their treatment.

Respect patients privacy

It is very important to treat the patient as human subject and not as an object of experiment as also to respect patient’s privacy to increase the confidence level in your treatment.

Handle complaints effectively

It is important to handle complaints in a positive manner and implement the necessary changes to improve accordingly. Doctor cannot be oblivious of the patient’s complaint, if he is to be satisfied.

 

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