This Question Can Please Patients and Increase Revenue

Brian S. Kern, JD

Disclosures

December 30, 2015

In This Article

You Can Even Do Better on Revenue

5. Reimbursement

An increasing number of payer compensation programs—both government and private—incorporate patient satisfaction scores into their metrics. If physicians don't achieve minimum satisfaction scores, they'll lose valuable dollars.

Unfortunately, physicians often are kept in the dark about how payers gather patient satisfaction information, causing them to struggle over how to improve the results.

These realities have led some physicians to gather data on patient satisfaction by conducting their own surveys. Once they become familiar with the program and questions, physicians are generally able to improve their scores quickly. To align with external compensation structures, groups can adjust their internal compensation formulas and include patient satisfaction scores as a component.

If the patient satisfaction system is sophisticated and comprehensive enough, there's no reason why it can't, and shouldn't, be used as the shared-savings program metric in lieu of the ones used by payers.

Some Important Next Steps

There are various ways to conduct patient satisfaction surveys. Many small groups elect to use an internal and simple surveying process, and may ask just a few questions. More sophisticated healthcare systems, by contrast, will usually outsource the process. Although some companies are still primarily using paper, electronic formats that can display results in a dashboard setting can prove beneficial in many ways, including:

  • Easier for practice leaders to navigate the results and present them to physicians;

  • More effective when using the data to negotiate with payers;

  • Can satisfy the requirements of other reimbursement/government programs; and

  • More organized in the event that results are posted online, to combat incomplete or underrepresented surveys shown at other web sites.

When reviewing patient satisfaction programs, physicians should focus on the questions being asked to ensure that the answers can provide insight and guidance on the topics and issues most meaningful to them. As important, of course, are the results, though you shouldn't expect everyone to jump at the opportunity to provide you with feedback—surveying programs commonly generate less than a 10% response rate, with some of the better ones getting closer to 30%.

Own the Data

Regardless of which approach you or your group chooses, always conduct proper due diligence before commencing a comprehensive surveying campaign. Healthcare will continue to change rapidly, and the winners won't necessarily be the ones with the most data, but the ones with the best data.

It's time for physicians to stop relying on data created by the very parties with whom they must negotiate, and start collecting their own. Implementing a comprehensive patient satisfaction program is a critical first step.

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