The Myth of Patient Satisfaction


About Passion for Patients

In his 2013 AMA Journal of Ethics report, Richard Bolton Siegrist, Jr., MBA, MS, CPA states a number of myths about patient satisfaction scores. I’d like to revisit the following 3 myths… because I feel this is important for medical practitioners and their teams. Source:

Myth #1: “Only very unhappy or happy patients make comments on their surveys.”

Most people in the community don’t complain because they can’t be bothered.

You don’t always complain if you get bad customer service—because if you did, you’d probably spend most days complaining.

So instead of looking at the low number (in percentage) of complaints we should look at what we can DO to assure that our patients leave the practice or clinic knowing that they’ve received superior customer care—with heart and compassion.

Would you agree?

Myth #2: “Very few patients fill out satisfaction surveys.”

That may be true, because like you and your team, people are busy. Most people have an anti-survey attitude. They see a survey as a drag on their time, with no immediate reward. So why bother? If we can’t benefit in kind, we don’t like to spend time.

But when you think about this… do we really need a huge number of people to complete these surveys to indicate what the community is feeling?

My argument is that we don’t.

Myth #3: “Patient satisfaction is primarily a popularity contest. Patient satisfaction and quality are not related.”

 I respectfully disagree! Patient satisfaction and quality go hand in hand. (Most) customer service related mistakes can be forgiven with a simple, “I’m sorry,” a smile and eye-to-eye contact.

We’re humans serving humans, and so we make mistakes. My argument is to strive for inter-personal communication that respects the argument of every person involved, but does so with respect, kindness and compassion.

This has nothing to do with popularity—and everything to do with good old fashioned customer service.

“To keep a customer demands as much skill as to win one.” —American Proverb

I’d love to hear your thoughts around the patient satisfaction score.

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