Physicians traditionally are loath to focus on the consumer aspect of the practice of medicine, preferring to think of patients strictly in terms of their medical needs as opposed to their customer wants. This way of thinking hearkens back to the “golden age” of medicine, when doctors were more paternalistic and always “knew best” what was in the best interests of the patient.

However, that way of thinking might be harming your practice’s fiscal bottom line. There’s a clear link between patient satisfaction and profitability as a practice. Perhaps just as important, there’s also a clear link between poor patient experiences and financial failure. A Medical Economics article claims a 17-27% variation in finances based on patient perception.

Patient satisfaction scores tying to financial performance isn’t isolated to private practices. A paper from the Public Library of Science, titled “Correlation between hospital finances and quality and safety of patient care,” found that “Strong financial performance is associated with improved patient-reported experience of care, the strongest component distinguishing quality and safety. These findings suggest that financially stable hospitals are better able to maintain highly reliable systems and provide ongoing resources for quality improvement.”

Of course, these findings are correlational in nature, not definitive proof of causation, which brings into question the age-old chicken vs. egg dilemma. That said, we suggest that if you want to frame “exceptional medical care” as priority #1 for you as a doctor or healthcare provider, just make sure you also frame “patient satisfaction” as priority #1 for you as the proprietor of a healthcare practice.

Patients nowadays have more information and greater choices of healthcare provider (doctor, medical practice, facility, and hospital) at their disposal. It would behoove you to begin thinking of them as customers also, not just patients.

What do you think? Are we spot on or did we miss the mark somehow? Let us know!

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