“Have you ever thought, how a dissatisfied patient might spoil your reputation or sometimes even put you in serious trouble”?

Sajal Kanti Ghosh

If you are a doctor or a hospital administrator, you should care about “patient satisfaction“. Both experience and research evidence suggest patient satisfaction is a crucial component for professional reputation and profitability and brand image. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how many brilliant doctors you are employing in your hospital, how profitable your hospital is, how many latest technologies you are using; patient dissatisfaction is always a bad idea. Experience and evidence suggest, patient dissatisfaction can lead to – professional reputation damage, the spread of bad word of mouth, decrease profitability, physical damage in the hospital premise, and sometimes even life threat.

If you are a doctor, nurse, or a hospital administrator, you should care about patient satisfaction.

“Patient satisfaction is a win-win-win concept. Hospital, doctor and the patient – everyone wins if satisfaction is delivered”.

Sajal Kanti Ghosh

Patient satisfaction is an important and commonly used indicator for measuring the quality in health care. Patient satisfaction affects clinical outcomes, patient retention, and medical malpractice claims. It affects the timely, efficient, and patient-centered delivery of quality health care. Patient satisfaction is thus a proxy but a very effective indicator to measure the success of doctors and hospitals [1].

Importance of patient satisfaction

Importance of delivering patient satisfaction is a strategic variable and a crucial determinant of long-term viability and success [2]. ‘Patient satisfaction may be considered to be one of the desired outcomes of care … information about patient satisfaction should be as indispensable to assessments of quality as to the design and management of health care systems’ [3].

“Dissatisfaction can have serious ramifications: patients are unlikely to follow treatment regimen, may fail to show up for follow-up care and, in extreme cases, may resort to negative word-of-mouth that can dissuade others from seeking health care services from the system or persuade them to seek it elsewhere, often abroad”.

Andaleeb, S. S., Siddiqui, N., & Khandakar, S. (2007).

Higher patient satisfaction leads to benefits for the health industry in a number of ways. Some of these are [1].

  • Loyalty: Patient satisfaction leads to customer (patient) loyalty.
  • Patient Retention: According to the Technical Assistant Research Programs (TARPs), if we satisfy one customer, the information reaches four others. If we alienate one customer, it spreads to 10, or even more if the problem is serious. So, if we annoy one customer, we will have to satisfy three other patients just to stay even.
  • Price war: They are less vulnerable to price wars. There is sufficient evidence to prove that organizations with high customer loyalty can command a higher price without losing their profit or market share. In fact, in a study conducted in Voluntary Hospitals of America, nearly 70% of patients were willing to pay more money if they had to consult a quality physician of their choice.
  • Consistent profitability: It is estimated that, in USA, loss of a patient due to dissatisfaction, can result in the loss of over $200,000 in income over the lifetime of the practice.
  • Morale: Increased staff morale with reduced staff turnover also leads to increased productivity.
  • Legal aspects: Reduced risk of malpractice suits – an inverse correlation has been reported for patient satisfaction rates and medical malpractice suits.
  • Satisfaction: Increased personal and professional satisfaction – patients who improve with our care definitely make us happier. The happier the doctor, the happier will be the patients.

Reference

[1] Prakash, B. (2010). Patient satisfaction. Journal of cutaneous and aesthetic surgery, 3(3), 151-155. doi:10.4103/0974-2077.74491

[2] Andaleeb, S. S., Siddiqui, N., & Khandakar, S. (2007). Patient satisfaction with health services in Bangladesh. Health Policy and Planning, 22(4), 263-273. doi:10.1093/heapol/czm017

[3] Donabedian, A. (1988). The quality of care. How can it be assessed? JAMA, 260(12), 1743-1748. doi:10.1001/jama.260.12.1743

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