From Locum Tenens to Automation: The Journey to Improved Patient Satisfaction
It is no secret that the healthcare industry is in the midst of a staffing shortage due to more healthcare jobs than available medical professionals. It is expected that there will be a shortage between 61,700 and 94,700 physicians over the next decade, and those numbers do not include nurses, physicians assistants, and other medical professionals.
At the same time, physicians, nurses, physician assistants and other healthcare practitioners find their time stretched even more due to an increased focus on patient satisfaction. Under the Affordable Care Act, Medicare reimbursements are affected by patient satisfaction scores, making patient reported outcomes increasingly important. This often means that it is expected practitioners will spend more time with each patient, taxing out their already packed schedule. This leads to a serious dilemma, one that can be solved through a combination of locum tenens and automation.
Express Empathy Through Automated Emails
Empathy is one of the most important components of patient satisfaction, with 65 percent of overall satisfaction related to physician empathy. It ranks higher than shorter wait times and longer time with the physician. Finding ways to improve empathy helps to improve overall patient satisfaction. One way to do this is through including empathy in automation, including emails.
It might seem counterintuitive to combine automation with empathy, but there are ways to create templates that express empathy and track patient outcomes without having to create individual emails for each patient. Templates also offer options for personalizing the emails for additional impact. These tools can be used to communicate with patients and track patient care, including prescriptions and follow-up visits.
Interactive Voice-Response Calls
Another automation tool that streamlines patient follow-up is interactive voice-response calls. These are especially key in areas where there might be issues with patients’ ability to receive and/or read emails. These calls include the same tailored information to the patient’s condition and experience. By incorporating a template voice call and personalizing it, even by just including the patient’s name, it provides a way for practitioners to reach out to their patients without the increased demand on the staff’s time. These calls make the patients feel that the doctors care about them, improving patient satisfaction scores.
Increase Compassionate Care
Compassion sits right alongside empathy, and there are ways for healthcare facilities, whether large hospitals or small private practices, to improve their compassion. Compassion simply correlates to a patient-centered approach that recognizes the suffering, questions, concerns and distress that patients might have and takes the time to address them. This means that doctors include patients and their families when applicable in the decision-making process for care.
Facilities practicing compassionate care also make their employees a priority, including offering training programs and helping practitioners retain a work-life balance. Courses on empathy and compassion for staff members also encourage the development and use of these soft skills. Senior management has an important role in facilitating this culture of compassion.
Locum Tenens Staff Members
Taking advantage of locum tenens physicians helps fill the gaps in your care.
Technology is not the only way to improve patient satisfaction and care; it also helps to bring on more staff members. For many healthcare facilities, filling these positions is difficult due to many factors, including budgetary constraints and an inability to find available physicians. Locum tenens helps to fill these open healthcare jobs on an as-needed basis. During busy seasons, a healthcare facility can have more staff to handle an increase in patients.
It further enhances a culture of compassion because the physicians are able to spend more time with patients due to fewer administrative duties. Locum tenens doctors also have more work-life balance, so they come into the appointment with a more positive attitude rather than feeling burnt out. This comes across to the patient, improving the doctor-patient relationship. Patients feel that they have an empathetic doctor who cares, which correlates to improved patient outcomes. Studies have found that positive doctor-patient relationship correlates to better health outcomes for the patients. In fact, it can be just as beneficial as daily aspirin is in preventing a heart attack.
By making an effort to create a more compassionate practice, whether as a large healthcare facility or small private practice, you can improve your patient satisfaction scores, which helps your business as well as the health of your patients. Automation and locum tenens provide ways to integrate empathy into your practice without increasing the burden on your already over-worked staff members.
Contact us to learn more about how locum tenens can help you.