This Question Can Please Patients and Increase Revenue

Brian S. Kern, JD


December 30, 2015

In This Article


"What else can we do for you?"

It's a simple question, but it's remarkable how many doctors, nurses, and other members of a practice's staff don't ask it before the patient leaves the office or is discharged from the hospital.

Managing patient "satisfaction" is more important than ever, and—like practicing medicine—is an art as much as a science. The patient experience begins with the very first encounter, and literally continues for a lifetime. Given the ever-increasing benefits associated with satisfied patients, and the detriments that unsatisfied ones can bring, it's imperative for physicians to incorporate a comprehensive patient satisfaction survey process into their practice.

Ask and Ye Shall Receive

The best way to find out how patients feel about their care is to ask them. Yet asking them at the point of care or upon discharge can be misleading. Patients might be too intimidated or flustered to give honest and thoughtful responses. Sending out surveys several days after care can be more valuable, and creates the opportunity to ask a wide range of questions: from how patients were treated by the staff, to whether they understood their care plan and whether they would be comfortable recommending your practice to others.

A clear, simple, and straightforward process of questioning patients and soliciting their feedback can produce tremendous benefits in five key areas.

1. Communication

Physician who communicate effectively with their patients can accomplish two fundamental healthcare goals related to patient satisfaction and delivering effective care: informed consent and patient engagement.

Signed consent forms are effective tools in defending against medical liability lawsuits, but they don't necessarily reflect a patient's true comprehension of the recommended treatment and alternatives. The survey process not only helps ensure a patient's understanding of their care plan, but adds another layer of protection if you're sued for a bad outcome.

Ensuring that patients are "engaged" in their own care is an old concept, but with new ramifications. That's because appropriate patient engagement is required as a condition to participate in many shared-savings programs, such as accountable care organizations and patient-centered medical homes. Simply by asking the right questions and having them properly documented, practices can achieve these goals.


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