Patients who don’t get what they want give low survey scores, right? Wrong!


There’s an old canard continuing to make the rounds among physicians who conduct patient satisfaction surveys and it goes like this: “If I don’t give my patients what they want, (read narcotics or antibiotics) they’ll rate me low on the survey.”

As a company that conducts patient satisfaction surveys and shadow coaches low-scoring physicians, we can assure you that the notion that the only way to avoid poor survey scores is to “give the lady what she wants” is baseless.

Our research shows that patients return to, refer others to, and rate high those physicians they like; but more important -- to doctors they believe like them.  Conversely patients switch doctors or score them low on surveys when providers come across as insensitive, impersonal, disinterested or uncaring.

Simple strategies for conveying that the doctor likes the patient include:

  • Using the patient’s name when entering the exam room 
  • Apologizing for delays and thanking the patient for waiting
  • Commenting on a bit of information the patient shared previously (vacation; hobby; etc.)
  • Sitting down as soon as possible to convey you’re not rushed
  • Giving good eye contact or explaining what you’re doing on the computer
  • Responding empathetically to the chief complaint
  • Using non-technical language suitable for lay people
  • On departure saying “Take care” and patting the patient on the shoulder or shaking their hand
It’s vital that patients believe that their doctors like them and want what’s in their best interest. Physicians who have their patients’ trust and confidence don’t see cellar-based satisfaction scores!

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