How to achieve high patient satisfaction

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Last year I was nominated for a patient satisfaction award, achieving the top 25% of patient satisfaction of the 1000’s of health care providers in my health care organization. Unknown to me at the time, apparently my patients were being mailed surveys asking them about me and my medical care. It was commented to me by one of the reviewers, “We have never seen such a high percentage of surveys returned with such stellar ratings!” I was proud of my team and also of myself. We all worked hard to help our patients get better and on behalf of my team, I thank all of our patients from the bottom of my heart.

As I thought about what enabled us to achieve such outstanding performance, I think it boils down to three main points.

  1. Patient’s first. Receiving advanced training at the Cleveland Clinic was a transformative experience for me. In addition to an extraordinary clinical experience, I took to heart their motto, “Patients First.” We always put our patients first in all that we do.
  1. The golden rule still holds. The lessons we learned in Kindergarten still hold today, “Treat all your patient’s as you yourself would want to be treated.” Although highly trained in robotic and minimally invasive surgery, key to success is proper patient selection. It’s not the size of the incision that is the most important but achieving an excellent overall result. For the right patient, robotic and minimally invasive surgery is a big advance, however sometimes it’s better for the patient to just have the procedure done the traditional way (i.e. if their hearts are just too sick to undergo a more complex procedure). If I feel the patient is well suited to a minimally invasive or endovascular approach, that’s what I suggest to them. If I feel they are better suited for a more traditional procedure, that’s what I recommend to them. I think patients appreciate my thoughtfulness, experience, and honesty.
  1. Before they care what you know, they need to know that you care. Many a wise mentor has told me that over my 20+ year career and I know it to be personally very true. I also learned the amazing power of patience and touch. I always make sure I sit down and talk with my patients on a daily basis. I want to answer all their questions and concerns. Being in a hospital is a scary experience and a few minutes of my time is well worth alleviating any distress for my patients. I also remember to touch them in a gentle way to let them know I really care. I believe these simple actions make a big difference in how my patients recover. Interestingly, research appears to support my own personal experience as healing touch has been shown to decrease patient anxiety and shorten their recovery time post coronary artery bypass grafting!

As I start my new practice serving the patients of Las Vegas, Nevada, I look forward to the opportunity to continue to make a real difference in people’s lives, to heal the sick and to save lives. It’s what I was meant to do.

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