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Patient Satisfaction In Healthcare: Tips To Improve

By February 6, 2019May 11th, 2023FOI in the News

By Lisa D. Ellis

The last time you went on vacation, you probably enjoyed five-star treatment from
the staff at the hotels and restaurants you visited. But while customer service is
paramount when it comes to dining and accommodations, most health care systems
don’t think to treat their patients like valued guests.

The High Cost of Not Making Patients Feel Valued

The danger is that if you’re not following the hospitality industry’s example, you
may be leaving patients feeling disappointed in their overall experiences. This can
be costly — especially if your dissatisfied patients then go online and give your
physicians or service lines bad ratings, according to Kim Mott, marketing and
customer service manager for Florida Orthopaedic Institute.

With most patients today shopping for health care online and comparing physicians
and organizations, it’s more important than ever to make sure physicians and
health care administrators are listening to what people are requesting, and respond
accordingly, Mott stresses.

Sharing Florida Orthopaedic Institute’s Experiences

Mott and her colleague Donna Bossuyt, director of marketing and customer service
for the Florida Orthopaedic Institute, recently shared their experiences at the 2018
annual conference held by the Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market
Development (SHSMD).

Mott points out that that the institute’s journey in this area began a few years ago,
when its leadership recognized that while the organization already had a stellar

reputation for providing world-class care, its patient reviews were not living up to
its high quality of care.

Part of the problem was that the organization had grown a great deal in recent
years, expanding from just a dozen orthopaedists working in one office and one
hospital to now including more than 40 physicians, 25 mid-level providers, 15
fellows, and more than 600 professional staff members working in 10 offices, two
surgery centers, two orthopaedic urgent cares, and 19 regional hospitals. Such
growth made managing the patient experience a much more complicated process.

The Need to Be Patient Centric

Another problem was with that the expanded organization was focusing on the
physicians and their needs instead of putting the patients first.

“When we look to the hospitality field, it’s clear that we can’t be physician-centric,
but rather, we must be patient-centric to be successful,” Mott stresses

In practical terms, this meant that, with the support of the c-suite, she and Bossuyt
needed to help physicians reframe their service delivery to operate with the attitude
of a high-end hotel that wants to please the people it serves.

“I ask our physicians to think about staying at the Marriott or Ritz Carlton. How can
we compare our interactions to that?” she asks.

Responding to Patient Feedback

The real key to success, though, was finding the best mechanism to capture online
feedback from patients on what works well — and what needs to change. Rather
than trying to follow all of the websites where patients can rate the organization,
Mott now uses a tool from Binary Fountain.

“This allows us to put all of our listings into one dashboard. When a patient posts a
new review, I get an email that shows where it’s posted, who wrote it, and when,
so I can respond right away,” Mott says. Currently she gets between 10 and 25
reviews a week, with 10 percent or less containing negative feedback. Patients can
share their stories on Florida Orthopaedic Institute’s website or other review sites.

Providing Concrete Feedback for Physicians

Having a way to organize reviews also provides a great way to show physicians
what people think of their service and where they are unhappy. This has been an
important motivator to help the medical staff really focus on the patient experience.

“When we receive a complaint, I can show physicians this is the perception they are
giving to patients,” she explains. “We never accuse physicians of anything when we
get a bad review but ask to hear their side of the story and use this as a catalyst to
talk about what patients want. This helps to remind everyone that we are trying to
provide a better customer experience,” she adds.

Strengthening Personal Interactions

For many physicians, personal interactions are not something they learned in
medical school, so this can require taking a fresh approach to patient care. “I meet
with the entire medical team, not just the doctor, and educate them that
prospective patients are shopping online for health care services, using websites
like Google, Healthgrades, and RateMD. If a patient sees a bad review, this can
deter the patient from coming to our practice. We have to actively play a role in
asking all of our patients to share their stories online. These group conversations
also provide us with coachable moments for the teams,” she says.

When necessary, Mott also shadows physicians who have gotten bad reviews or
complaints to see any missed opportunities during patient exams for making a
deeper connection.

For example, she recently shadowed one physician who consistently received
patient complaints and found that he showed up late for his appointments, did not
introduce his team to the patients and their families, didn’t express empathy, and
showed his frustration with the computer system.

While the doctor initially seemed reluctant to change his ways, ultimately the
feedback was very helpful to him. Several months later, Mott shadowed him again
and she saw he had incorporated some of the suggestions and showed real
improvement in his style. He also was no longer getting bad reviews from patients.

Feedback Can Help Doctors Do Their Job Better

While no one likes to hear criticism, at the end of the day, doctors who get
feedback on how to improve patient relations are able to express more compassion
to patients.

“They got into the medical profession because they cared,” Mott points out.
Therefore, being able to put this caring into their daily practice ultimately helps
them do their job better and have a deeper impact. Mott says she tries to stress
this concept, so physicians can see the bigger picture.

While they have not formally tracked the results of their efforts to elevate patient
service, Mott says that the good reviews and ratings are paying off in improving the
institute’s online profile.

What You Can Do

For organizations looking to step up their patient satisfaction in healthcare, Mott
offers these three tips to guide their efforts:

  1. Use a tool to streamline your patient reviews in a way that makes it easy to
    track them and to respond to the reviewer in real time. She responds to both
    positive and negative reviews right away, so people feel that their voice is being
    heard and they matter.
  2. Share tangible feedback with physicians and their teams in an organized
    fashion, such as through team huddles, where everyone can come up with an
    orchestrated way to integrate the information into their daily operations. Often
    breaking down the criticism into several concrete bullet points can make it
    easier to digest.
  3. Be sure to follow up with physicians to see how any changes they have put into
    practice are working. Customer satisfaction should be the focus of an ongoing
    conversation that an organization has with its staff. Remember that people’s
    needs and desires change over time, so this should always be a work in

Lisa D. Ellis is a contributing writer for Strategic Health Care Marketing. She is a journalist
and content development specialist who helps hospitals and other health care providers and
organizations shape strategic messages and communicate them to their target audiences.
You can reach her at

patient satisfaction in healthcare - Kim Mott

“When we receive a complaint, I can show physicians this is the perception they are
giving to patients,”

Kim Mott, marketing and customer service manager for Florida Orthopaedic Institute