IMPORTANT: Changes to Medi-Cal rules are coming! Medi-Cal will be available to all people who are 50 years of age or older who meet all Medi-Cal eligibility criteria, and immigration status will not matter. These changes will also let people keep more property and qualify for Medi-Cal. Go to benefitscal.com or call the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services at 1-866-613-3777.

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Quick and Simple Ways to Elevate Health Care

See tips and best practices for improving the patient experience.

Patient Satisfaction Tips

L.A. Care’s Patient Satisfaction Tips are related to the Clinical and Group Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CG-CAHPS). IPAs’ CG-CAHPS scores partially determine payouts for L.A. Care’s VIIP Program (Value Initiative for IPA Performance). If you represent an IPA practice or clinic, please share these tips with the providers in your network. 

We understand that COVID-19 has changed health care. L.A. Care wants to support providers in numerous ways, including sharing resources on patient experience, while acknowledging the challenges of the pandemic.

If you have any questions or have tips you’d like to share with the provider community, contact L.A. Care’s Quality Improvement (QI) Department.

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Patient Satisfaction Tips 2021

check mark in circle#1:  Make Sure Patients Understand

Connect more with your patients by speaking in a way that is clear and concise. In a 2018 survey, 77% of respondents indicated that it’s very important that their doctors talk in a way they can easily understand. Observe how you speak with patients and identify ways to be more clear or use simple language.

 

check mark in circle#2:  Prioritize Respect 

Above all else, make sure patients are always treated respectfully. This may seem like common sense but we could all use a reminder. Every patient deserves to be treated with the golden rule in mind.

 

check mark in circle#3: Find Joy in Your Work

Providers and staff have so many responsibilities — don’t let these responsibilities make you forget why you answered the call to care. Consider writing your own personal oath down as a reminder.

 

check mark in circle#4: Put On a Happy Face 

Providers need to seem approachable to patients. This means appearing pleasant, open and interested. Leave other issues outside the exam room and avoid coming off as hurried, irritated or bored. Self-awareness is key.

 

check mark in circle#5: Get to Know Your Patients

To really improve patient satisfaction, providers, staff and health systems must truly make an effort to get to know their patients. Ask your patients about their home or family life. Share things about yourself. This helps patients feel comfortable sharing intimate details regarding their health. Sharing is caring.  

 

check mark in circle#6: What Do Patients Really Want?

Never assume what patients want. Ask questions and engage patients beyond theirs charts. Patient surveys can help and don’t have to be complicated. Simply offer a short paper or web-based questionnaire at the end of the visit. Or you can consider sending it to patients afterwards via mail, email, or IVR. Track results and see how they change when you make improvements in the office.

 

check mark in circle#7: Address Questions

Answer phone calls with positive tone and try to answer all your patients’ questions. If you don’t have the answer, say so. Inform patients that you don’t have the answer to their question right now, but you are working on a solution and will follow up. 

 

check mark in circle#8: Upgrade Your Pre-appointment Process 

Why not try a system that allows patients to manage their own appointment bookings? Consider using digital tools such as web forms to collect information before a visit or text messaging to remind them of appointments.

 

check mark in circle#9: Hello, How Can I Help You?

Always be prompt in answering and returning phone calls. Remember the following:

  1. Try not to keep patients on hold for more than 30 seconds.
  2. Avoid multiple transfers.
  3. Try to return phone calls and emails within a standard time frame.

 

check mark in circle#10: How to Prioritize Your Patient Phone Calls

Create a system to return patients calls based on the individual needs of patients. Return calls from patients with severe or urgent health concerns first.

 

check mark in circle#11:  Make Check-in Cheery

Check patients in quickly and greet them with a smile. Direct patients to the waiting room and let them know how long their wait time will be. If their scheduled appointment time is delayed, inform them as soon as possible.

 

check mark in circle#12: Set the Example for Others to Follow

Every staff member in your practice should be aware of customer service guidelines and best practices. Make your organization’s commitment to providing a caring and respectful environment for patients known. You can do this by taking the lead in your practice.

 

check mark in circle#13: A Smile Can Go a Long Way

Speaking in a caring and welcoming manner can help improve overall patient satisfaction within your practice. Try smiling to brighten up your (and others’) day.

 

check mark in circle#14: Take a Seat

Try sitting during your appointments with patients. One study revealed that patients estimate that they spend more time with providers when the physician sits down. Sitting is also especially important when delivering bad news.

 

check mark in circle#15:  Use Technology to Engage

Try using interactive tools like patient portals that let patients schedule appointments, request refills, review test results, and communicate with your staff through secure messaging. Consider offering free Wi-fi in the waiting area. You can even think about using interactive quizzes and surveys to educate patients about healthy lifestyle choices.

 

check mark in circle#16: All Hands on Deck for Patient Experience

All staff members in a practice contribute to the patient’s experience. Thus, everyone must be on board with a patient-first approach. If your office staff do not engage well with patients, your patients may get the impression that you don’t care about them.

 

check mark in circle#17: Focus on Patient Education  

Studies show that patient education can improve patient retention. Educated patients are empowered patients, who may have better adherence, make healthier choices and may be more satisfied.

 

check mark in circle#18:  Protect Confidentiality  

Remind staff of guidelines around discussing patient information. If a patient overhears staff discussing another patient’s test results, they are unlikely to feel safe and trusting in your practice.

 

check mark in circle#19: How to handle a patient’s complaint

Listen and ask questions regarding patient complaints. Instead of saying "I don’t know" or "I can’t help you", take responsibility. Offer them a seat or water and let them know that you understand their concern and are looking into the issue and the appropriate person who can help.

 

check mark in circle#20: Make Patients Feel Heard

Make your patient the sole focus of the appointment. Listen intently and wait until they stop speaking. Studies have shown that the average patient gets to speak between 12 and 15 seconds before their physician interrupts them.

 

check mark in circle#21: Use Plain Language   

Try to use everyday language to explain complicated terms. When you use terms that patients don’t understand, they can experience confusion and frustration, which can negatively impact adherence.

 

check mark in circle#22: How to Create Engaging Relationships With Patients

Try to be empathetic to patients’ experiences. Tell them that you understand them and thank them for sharing.

 

check mark in circle#23: Create an Environment of Caring  

Interactive dialogue and engaging body language will significantly reduce patient anxiety, as well as other emotional barriers that impact the care delivery experience.

 

check mark in circle#24: Ask patients About Their Social Needs

In a survey, 97% of respondents wanted their medical provider to ask about their social needs. Try to ask your patients more about their social needs, such as access to food/balanced meals, transportation to receive medical care, or housing stability. If they need assistance in any area, consider referring to community resources that can help.