Creatively Increase Patient Satisfaction With These 3 Tips
If you’ve been struggling with negative reviews or feedback from declining patient satisfaction, it might mean that your current patient satisfaction strategies aren’t working. As a small practice owner, it’s especially important to make sure that you’re constantly working to improve your patient satisfaction rate—we have a few out-of-the-box strategies to help with that.
After all, using creative ways to increase patient satisfaction will help differentiate your practice from other healthcare organizations which will drive engagement and retention, as well as improve patient experience and increase revenue.
To that end, we’ve gathered insights from Gartner, as well as Ohio-based psychiatrist Dr. Jess Levy, to help you improve your patients’ satisfaction by implementing some unique strategies.
The value of getting creative with your patient satisfaction efforts
Improving your patients’ experience and satisfaction should be an ongoing effort for your practice versus something you only address one time after receiving negative feedback.
In fact, according to our Software Advice 2022 Patient Experience Survey*, 58% of patients say they have received patient satisfaction surveys after visiting a healthcare provider in the past three years. However, 63% of those same patients feel that their healthcare provider doesn’t take their survey responses into account or make any changes as a result of those surveys.
The important thing to remember here is that patient satisfaction is not only important to your patients, but also to the longevity and success of your practice. If patients feel like they aren’t getting the experience they deserve, they’re going to look elsewhere.
Track how patients move through your physical and digital spaces
Are your patients often not sure where to go within your office or clinic? Do you find that you have patients that end up at point “X” instead of point “Y”? This can lead to your staff having to reroute lost patients, which also equates to wasted appointment time.
The technology larger hospitals and healthcare organizations are utilizing to circumvent issues like this requires patients and staff to wear RFID tracking devices as well as installing access points to capture the signals, which might be overkill for smaller practices.
For those smaller healthcare clinics, systems that include location tracking technology allow you to gather direct, real-time location data, which enables you to respond quickly to shifting patient and care team movement to address potential problems early.
For instance, if you have several data points from patients about how they navigate your physical space, you might begin to see a pattern where patients are getting confused about where to go for certain places.
You might find that a high percentage of your patients pause at a specific place in your office that has branching doors because they aren’t sure which direction to go. If you’ve observed this, you could do something to make navigation easier for them, such as put up signage.
Being observant and anticipating what might leave a patient more satisfied before they have any concerns or issues will lead to improved patient satisfaction. 
Additional things you can do:
As a low cost or free way of improving the experience within your clinic, have your staff closely monitor patients as they move through your office to determine any places where you might be able to make quality of life improvements.
Do they pause at certain places and look around confused? Add more signage.
Do they often get up to drink water from the fountain? Add a mini fridge with water bottles.
Do you notice that they pull out charging cables to look for a plug to charge their phones? Add some power strips near all the seats in the waiting room.
Supercharge your patient satisfaction surveys with the right questions and tech
Our Patient Experience Survey* already indicates that the majority of practices are sending out patient satisfaction surveys, but unless you make meaningful changes based on data, it might be doing more harm than good.
Here are some tips about how best to conduct patient satisfaction surveys:
Ask for feedback shortly after appointments: Ideally, you should send the survey the same day as your patient’s appointment, but don’t wait any later than 48 hours after a patient visits you so that their experience is still fresh in their minds.
Avoid asking open-ended questions: Make the questions easy to answer and scalable. Asking “How did you find the wait?” would be easier for them to answer if you instead ask how satisfied they are with the wait time or waiting room on a scale of “extremely dissatisfied” to “extremely satisfied.” That ensures the data you have is easier to quantify and track.
You also want to be deliberate about what types of questions you are asking to ensure the data you collect will help you improve key performance indicators (KPIs) such as patient retention, patient repeat books, average wait times, and patient feedback.
Unless you have someone on staff who is devoted to data analytics, you might not have the time or capacity to take completed surveys and tease out the information that will help you best improve patient satisfaction.
An example of SurveySparrow’s survey analytics (Source)
That’s where survey software comes in. It can help you create more customized, professional-looking surveys. Additionally, the software can help you distribute it in a variety of ways such as through social media, email, or through a URL link. Most survey software tools will help you manage the data more efficiently by helping you dissect the information and identify trends.
For example, software allows you to break down answers by demographics to pinpoint if a specific patient population or age group is struggling with a particular aspect of your service. Getting that granular with the data can help you adjust your strategies for that segment of your patient population.
Note: If you don’t want to splurge for software, you can also create your own surveys with free survey creation tools, such as Google Forms.
And if you want a good starting place for a general patient satisfaction survey that will help you get usable data to improve patient satisfaction, you can download our survey template.
Build your practice around your ideal patient
It’s important to keep in mind that some of your patients might not be satisfied because they just aren’t a good fit for the type of service or care you provide. They might have totally different expectations about the type of experience they want versus what you are trying to accomplish. You can’t please everyone, so you have to take a step back and create an ideal patient persona that you can focus your marketing efforts around.
In fact, that’s just what Dr. Jess Levy  did when he started his own practice:
“I made up three imaginary patients. Patients who are truly happy to see me as their doctor because I understood them. I understood their interests and where they come from.
Once I understood what types of patients I wanted and would be able to best serve, I started tailoring my practice and marketing strategies to start capturing them.
My ideal patients are very tech savvy, so I have a QR code on my business card. I don’t actually have my phone number on my business card, and that was an intentional decision. If somebody looks at my business card and says I don’t know what to do with this, that’s good because they probably wouldn’t have been a good fit for my practice.
They might show up to their first appointment and have a bad experience, which will lead them to write a bad review. I won’t have a good time, and neither will they.
It’s just less stressful and more enjoyable once you have the right patients. I’m finding the patients that I’m getting vibe better with me, so it’s easier to work together. It’s just an overall better experience.
They’re happy and get better outcomes. They refer their friends to see me. They write good reviews and stick with you. Patients that fit will be more understanding when an emergency comes up and you might need to reschedule.”
Dr. Jess Levy
If you’re excited about your patients, they’re likely going to be excited about your practice which makes patient satisfaction much easier to monitor and improve. Patients who are excited about your practice will also be more likely to leave referrals or positive reviews on your site.
Curating your patients will mean taking a serious look at your marketing efforts to determine whether or not the strategies you’re using are effective at acquiring that ideal patient. Luckily for you, we’ve written about medical practice marketing and can help:
Here's Everything You Need to Know about Medical Practice Marketing
Patients who feel listened to will be more likely to stick with your practice in the long run
Ultimately, patient satisfaction is about making sure every patient that comes through your doors leaves happy and feels that their needs were met. You might have the best patient experience in the world, but if a patient doesn’t feel listened to, their frustration will make everything else inconsequential. That’s why it’s important to constantly observe and iterate on your practices to improve every patient’s satisfaction with their experience.
Happy patients mean more referrals, better reviews, and more frequent visits for routine checkups which all means better return on investment (ROI) for your practice. Plus, it’s an added bonus that your patients are happy to see you.
For more resources on patient engagement and patient experience, check out:
How to Maximize the Value of People Tracking for Healthcare Providers, Gartner
Dr. Jess Levy, About me page
* Software Advice's 2022 Patient Experience Survey was conducted online in October 2022 among 1,001 respondents in the U.S. Respondents were all adults who had visited a healthcare provider within the past three years.