This post was written by our guest blogger Michele Treinin, a Healthcare Analyst at RMS.

In a time when consumers are very price sensitive and the economy is fragile, there is no surprise that companies are trying to win loyalty by offering deals and incentives and providing impeccable service to keep them coming back but companies are not the only ones doing it. “As other industries try to build customer loyalty, they are setting certain expectations for services and consumers are carrying those expectations to healthcare”, said Vaughn Kauffman, PwC. Based on a recent study conducted by Harris Interactive, key drivers to patient satisfaction were identified. According to the market research, patients want:

  1. Well-trained physicians
  2. Easy access to patient histories
  3. Long appointments (or at least the impression of long appointments)

Harris Interactive surveyed 2,311 adults mid-July and released results September 10th which indicated that 84% of respondents had seen a doctor within the past 12 months and 83% of the group was satisfied or very satisfied with their level of care received at the visit. When compared to health insurers and car dealers, satisfaction rates were higher, but banks and restaurants performed the best.

Well-trained physicians are very important to patients. Almost all respondents (97%) rated the doctor’s knowledge, expertise and training as important or very important, regarding factors to create a positive customer experience. This is not surprising due to the fact that American consumers expect the highest level of care possible and the doctor’s credentials point to that.

Patient medical records have drastically changed over the past decade with the installation of electronic medical records (EMR) and the various ways to view them whether it is through laptops, netbooks, or tablets. Whether a doctor can view the records before entering the appointment or can review the record when they enter the exam room, 94% of respondents considered it to be important or very important for a physician to be able to access the records. Respondents brought up a suggestion for practices that may not be able to view records beforehand due to EMR capabilities. It was recommended that as soon as a doctor enters the room, the doctor should provide a brief introduction, state that they are going to review the record thoroughly and then provide the patient with their utmost attention.

By adding the time reviewing the record in the exam room, patients may feel that they have a longer appointment and 95% of respondents said time spent with the doctor was either important or very important when having a satisfying experience. Other qualities, such as body language makes it appear that the appointment is longer as opposed to it looking like the doctor is going to run out the door at any second. Sitting down also provides patients with the illusion that the appointment is longer.

cahps survey vendor

All of these expectations add to patient satisfaction and in turn adds to earning pay (through CAHPS® surveys, CMS reimbursement), retaining patients and gaining new ones. If you’re a hospital looking to increase your patient satisfaction scores or a physician practice looking to add and retain patients, Research & Marketing Strategies is your full-service healthcare market research firm. If you have any questions about CAHPS® surveying, patient satisfaction surveying or growing your patient number, please contact Sandy Baker at or by calling (315)635-9802.

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