How Happy Are Your Patients (And Where Could You Improve)?

How Happy Are Your Patients (And Where Could You Improve)?

While numerous studies have reported an overall positive experience among samples of dermatology patients, this same research has found that dermatology, as a whole, remains one of the lowest-ranking specialities in terms of patient satisfaction (Cutis). Here is an overview of the latest study findings on dermatology patient satisfaction, as well as some key tips for making your patients happier and, in turn, boosting business.

Dermatology Patient Satisfaction

A 2017 study of 298 dermatology patients found that, overall, patient satisfaction is positive, but there are a few specific areas that could be improved in order to increase patient happiness. The study, published in Cutis, found an average dermatology patient satisfaction score of 3.86 on a 5-point scale, indicating a general positive impression, with the most important factor being the friendliness and accessibility of the doctor. However, increased wait times and shorter periods of time spent in the exam room with the doctor were the two biggest reasons for low patient satisfaction scores among all demographics.

How to Make Your Patients Even Happier

For dermatology practices, improving patient happiness, even by a seemingly small increment, could mean increased repeat customers and, therefore, increased revenue. Consider these five tips to help improve some of the biggest complaints among dermatology patients across the board:

  1. Shorter wait times. By far, the biggest reason why patients report low satisfaction scores is having to wait 30 minutes or more to be seen by their doctor (The Dermatologist). While you are limited on how many patients you can see in a given timeframe by how many exam rooms your office holds, you can help to minimize wait times by 1) giving your patients something to do in the waiting room, such as providing free wi-fi or even a skin typing questionnaire and 2) streamlining your processes so you can see more patients in shorter amounts of time without sacrificing the quality of their visit. Becoming a Skin Type Solutions franchisee is one way to help you do this. Learn more about this system by reading this blog.
  2. Ease of getting an appointment. Another big reason dermatology patients become frustrated with a particular practice is that they don’t want to have to wait two months until they can get an appointment. From a dermatologist’s point of view, however, there are only so many people you can see in any given day, which is why you can easily become booked two months out. To help ease this struggle, you should first be sure that you have a strict no-show policy in place so that the patients that you do have booked are actually showing up to their appointment. Second, you might consider hiring a physician assistant or two so that you can book more patients each day, if your demand is high enough to make a new hire a smart financial decision.
  3. Parking options. In a 2013 survey, 24 percent of dermatology patients were unhappy with their overall experience due to problems finding parking (The Dermatologist). Of course, most practices have very little control over how much parking space is available to their patients. Still, consider leasing additional parking spaces or notifying your patients ahead of time that they’ll need to pay to park on the street or in a parking garage if that is the case. Alternatively, you could offer to provide a parking voucher to eliminate this added cost of making an appointment with you.
  4. Friendliness of staff. It’s important to keep in mind that every interaction your patients and potential patients have with members of your staff shapes their overall impression of your practice. Because of this, all employees should be properly trained to be friendly and welcoming both over the phone and in person. According to a mystery shopping survey published in Practical Dermatology, 20 percent of dermatology practices still use automated telephone answering systems, which aren’t very inviting and have been shown to drive away potential patients.

Getting the right information. Finally, getting the right information to your patients can help to not only increase their satisfaction with their visit, but it can also increase patient compliance, which is a huge problem for dermatology practices. The Skin Type Solution system provides dermatologists with readymade print-outs of detailed instructions for each of the 16 Baumann Skin Types. Providing your patients with this type of information is one way you can ensure that they understand your skin care recommendations and how to use each product you’re prescribing.

Developed by world-renowned dermatologist, Leslie Baumann, MD, the Skin Type Solutions® Franchise System is an educational, science-based skincare store that implements a simple and reliable system to maximize skincare product sales and improve patient compliance and results.

Based on Dr. Baumann’s patent-pending Baumann Skin Typing System, this first-of-its-kind retail model provides dermatologists with the scientific methodology, training, and education necessary to prescribe effective, customized skincare regimens utilizing multiple brands of products that have been independently tested and approved by Dr. Baumann. To learn more about what Skin Type Solutions can do for your dermatology practice, visit the STS site here.

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