I was recently asked to perform and present an in-depth analysis on patient satisfaction scores at our center, with the purpose of identifying areas of concern related to the experience that our patients are having when they come in to see their physicians, receive treatment, and/or undergoing diagnostic testing. Being at a large academic center, I must admit I expected wait times to receive the lowest satisfaction scores, and that indeed happened to be the case.
We’ve all been there; show up to your doctor’s office for an appointment, thinking that by arriving 20-30 minutes early—to register and complete any required paperwork or any of the constant new forms to sign—will help cut down on the amount of time spent at this appointment (because there is always something you’d rather do than to see your doctor!). Nonetheless, you are told as soon as you arrive that your doctor is running an hour late. Anger suddenly sets in as you hopelessly await your turn and naturally, the first thought that may come to mind is “my provider does not value my time”. As healthcare administrators, and particularly, as oncology administrators, we must look into innovative ways to not only demonstrate to our patients that we value their time, but also that we appreciate that they have selected our practice to receive their care, and also very importantly, ensure that our physicians have the appropriate systems and support in place to handle extremely demanding schedules in the most efficient manner.
As my colleague Patrick Higgins precisely suggested on his initial blog post, “The needs of patients need to remain in the forefront of every discussion”. In a healthcare system in which, more than ever, patients have the right and knowledge of selecting physicians and practices best suited to their needs, we must demonstrate to patients that we truly care about them, appreciate their business, and, more notably, that we value their time. In the upcoming months, I will be part of a pilot project that will look into validating or rejecting the idea that we can positively affect our patients experience by providing additional support to our providers—including assistance with EMR documentation pre, during, and post-appointment—as we have identified that our providers spend very valuable time completing these tasks, which inevitably extends the amount of time our patients spend in our clinic. Our patients have the choice of selecting their care provider and they have a set of expectations that must be met. Let’s demonstrate to them that we truly value their choice and let’s find ways to improve their experience in our clinics, it is the very least we can do.