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Engaging providers to drive optimal patient experience

MGMA Stat - August 7, 2019

Patient Engagement

Quality & Patient Experience

The Medical Group Management Association's most recent MGMA Stat poll, conducted on Aug. 6, 2019, asked healthcare leaders if they review patient satisfaction survey results with their providers. Of the 1,121 respondents, 88% answered "yes," while 12% answered "no." 

Those who responded "yes" were then asked how often they review the results with their providers. Of those 740 respondents, more than four in 10 (41%) answered "monthly," 33% "quarterly," 14% "other" and 12% "annually." Many of those who answered "other" reported sharing negative reviews with providers immediately to address patient concerns as soon as possible, then sharing all reviews at monthly or annual meetings.

Patient satisfaction is increasingly driving which practices and providers patients choose for their care, as well as whether practices attain or retain payer contracts. This could have a dramatic impact on practice financial performance and even survival.

Understanding patient satisfaction measures can help providers improve. Feedback comes in a variety of forms, from informal comments and scores on online platforms such as Google, Healthgrades and Yelp, to formal surveys conducted by the organization through groups such as Press Ganey. 

To help ensure providers understand patient satisfaction scores, practices should:
  • Start by explaining why feedback is important to understand so providers can make improvements. It could mean the difference between practice growth or closure! 
  • Analyze the survey tool used so providers understand metrics and how they are captured. Discuss key components such as survey frequency, question wording and benchmarking methods against other practices and the industry. 
  • Review the most recent scores and trends. 
  • Identify which scores are consistently strong and which ones are less than stellar.
  • Compare your practice to competitors and/or the industry. 
  • Compare individual providers to their practice colleagues. Initially, you may want to do this privately as it can be a sensitive issue. However, over time, sharing scores with all providers can help hold them accountable and drive improvement, which ultimately benefits the practice.
In addition to focusing on numerical scores, patient-specific comments should be reviewed at least monthly. These comments often provide insight into staff who may be providing excellent service or highlight issues that may need to be addressed. Comments that reference individual providers can be used to identify growth opportunities. These comments may highlight a need to reduce patient wait time, enhance communication style to better connect with patients, or improve clinical approach or outcomes based on patients' perceptions of their care experience.   
According to the 2019 MGMA DataDive Practice Operations dataset, 73% of respondents from primary care practices conduct patient satisfaction surveys after every patient visit and almost 90% of respondents (87.2%) review the results each month. Additionally, almost all respondents (98.6%) from primary care practices said they make actionable decisions based on their patient satisfaction results.
As an administrative leader, using these comments in conjunction with numerical scores will help you define patterns of issues, work to address staff-related issues and provide a platform for crucial conversations with your provider(s) on specific items they can improve on.

Once your providers understand the measures and comments and the importance of working collaboratively to improve them, shift the focus to defining several key measures to improve. From there, brainstorm and prioritize action steps that could change patient perceptions in those areas and address any barriers. Next, test a couple suggestions and use a focused internal survey to assess if they are driving improvements. For example, if you want to address patient feedback about the amount of information they want regarding proposed treatments, you could trial a brochure or video that would provide information without adding time to the provider visit. A survey that asks patients about their experience or how they would like to receive information could provide real-time feedback that can be used to tailor your approach. 

To continue to drive excellent patient service, update providers and the entire team frequently through multiple communication channels, such as a standing agenda item during monthly meetings or displaying the results in a common work area so everyone can see them. Keep in mind that celebrating wins is just as important as improving negative scores, so highlight positive comments and improvements in scores and give credit to those team members who go above and beyond! 

Engaging all team members and providers in improving patient satisfaction is the most effective way to create an experience patients will value!

Additional resources: Would you like to join our polling panel to voice your opinion on important practice management topics? 
MGMA Stat is a national poll that addresses practice management issues, the impact of new legislation and related topics. Participation is open to all healthcare leaders. Results of other polls and information on how to participate in MGMA Stat are available at: 

Learn more about MGMA Consulting
Learn more about MGMA Stat

Adrienne Palmer Lloyd, MHA, FACHE, chief administrative officer, Duke Eye Center, is an MGMA practice management consultant with more than 18 years of experience in healthcare leadership. She believes in embracing change and has helped identify and develop physician leaders, merge opposing cultures, and capitalize on diverse strengths to build successful, integrated teams. She has led cross-functional teams through a variety of Lean and Six Sigma events, producing significant financial returns and high levels of team engagement and innovation.  

She is certified in Lean and Six Sigma and also as a trainer, coach and speaker with the John Maxwell Team, focusing on leadership and cultural transformation. She presents nationally and enjoys training leaders on process improvement, helping to create high-performance cultures, and developing leaders  to help them transform their organizations.

Adrienne Lloyd, MHA, FACHE
Chief Administrative Officer, Duke Health, Ophthalmology
Consultant, MGMA Consulting

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