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How to Improve Patient Satisfaction: Proven Strategies for Success

There’s no real secrets around how to improve patient satisfaction. However, there’s a few tricks and tips that we go through in this article that are worth exploring.

satisfied patient

Why Patient Satisfaction Matters

Patient satisfaction provides a window into how your facility cares for its patients and whether your services are up to scratch.

It's one of those "magic" key performance indicators that influences customer retention, reimbursement rates and referral numbers. These metrics are the lifeblood of your practice. Unsatisfied patients can derail things very quickly, since it's much easier to retain existing patients than it is to find new ones.

If you're looking up ways to make your patients happier, than you're probably already aware of how important is it to get this part right. So without any further ado, let's get into the ways you can figure out if your patients are satisfied, and if they're not, fix that issue.

Measuring Patient Satisfaction

Patient satisfaction is central to any great health system.
Patient satisfaction is central to any great health system.

How to measure patient satisfaction

The only way to tell if your patients are satisfied is to ask (or measure). In doing this, you'll need to cast a fairly wide net, so you're not just getting a "yes" or "no" response.

One approach that plenty of healthcare providers are adopting is using an iPad to gather feedback from patients after treatment.

The iPad is loaded with survey software that asks questions about how the patient would rate the service they received, including checking in, waiting times, the quality of care, etc. Most people don’t want to fill out long-form surveys, so keeping it short and following up with an email can yield good results!

Do surveys actually work?

Yes, without a doubt. They can provide key insight into clinical outcomes that would otherwise remain hidden. For example, if a patient has recently ended their treatment and there was something that really annoyed them, for example, a long session of massage therapy on an uncomfortable treatment table, this is something that might be pointed out if surveyed.

In this hypothetical, it would be easy to fix too (yes, this is a product plug... but it's worth checking out!), you could pick up a new affordable Alevo Australian made treatment table.

Understanding how patients perceive their care and outcomes is valuable for you to understand your practice's strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for improvement. It's also important for measuring and tracking patient satisfaction over time.

You can't improve patient satisfaction if you don't know if the things you're doing are helping or hurting.

Examining healthcare delivery

One great way to examine your clinic's healthcare delivery is to put yourself in the patient’s shoes by walking through the clinic’s systems.

For example, from the moment they walk in the door, do they see a clean, modern, and welcoming space? Are they greeted with a smile?

Are the practitioners welcoming and attentive? Are the patients given the chance to ask questions and feel heard? Are the patients given a prognosis and a plan that is clear and concise?

Even if you practice isn’t getting any negative feedback from patients, it is still worth looking for these things.

Implement a "patient satisfaction score"

Patient satisfaction scores are a great way to boil down patient satisfaction to a single number.

One way to implement this approach is to create a satisfaction score, which is calculated using several patient experience variables.

There's no right or wrong way to do here, but keeping the system simple and easy to understand is the best place to start. Your number could be measured on a scale of 1-10 and calculated using the average scores from various surveys.

These could include variables like; “The greeting: on a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the greeting you received upon arrival?” and “The explanation: on a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the explanation given to you by the practitioner?"

These are hypothetical questions, but you get the point!

What are common errors when measuring patient satisfaction?

The most common mistake is not measuring patient satisfaction at all. While many healthcare providers understand that patient satisfaction is important, they don’t always take the time to measure it.

However, speaking more directly to the theoretical errors that are made while measuring satisfaction, it's common to introduce survey bias accidentally. This usually happens when a survey question is suggestive, or the survey timing aligns with a period of heightened emotions.

An example of suggestive questioning could be: "What were you most happy with regarding your treatment today?". There may still be some value to these answers, but it's primed the respondent to provide a "happy" answer rather than true feedback.

In terms of heightened emotion, surveying a dental patient directly after having a cavity filled probably won't yield the most neutral response, given they're probably hyper-aware of their numb mouth and probably relieved to simply be out of the dentist's chair.

Analysing patient feedback for improvement

Patient feedback uncovers areas for quality improvement in healthcare systems.

Analysing patient feedback is the quickest way to come up with ways to improve patient satisfaction. It takes "gut feel" out of the equation.

For example, you might notice that patients are consistently unhappy when they move from the waiting to treatment rooms. A quick survey would reveal several patients reporting “the waiting room is freezing cold.”

Fixing actual issues is rarely this simple, but this example gives you the idea.

Sometimes you'll need to read between the lines in patient feedback. People often understand something is wrong, but can't always article.

Patient feedback is essential for quality improvement and patient-centred care.

Patient-centred care is the hot approach in 2024. Innovative clinics and hospitals are finding ways to realign their practices to make the patient's journey better.

It sounds like an obvious take, but there's really no telling what patients want without actually asking them. And the best way to do that is, you guessed it, analysing patient feedback.

Hiding in the survey results and suggestion box is a wealth of suggestions that can help your clinic become more patient-centric, which is a sure way to create satisfied patients.

Strategies for Improving Patient Satisfaction

8 creative ways to increase patient satisfaction

Patient satisfaction surveys can be conducted on an iPad.
Patient satisfaction surveys can be conducted on an iPad.

1. Encourage online reviews for feedback

Let's start with the obvious one. Encouraging patients to leave online reviews for feedback is the place to start because it gives patients a voice. Even though it may not be addressing the core issues causing dissatisfaction, it at least gives an outlet for patient's to air their problems.

It's unlikely that your services will never cause any patient some level of stress, discomfort or annoyance. But, most people are reasonable and as long as they have a way to tell you about the issue and feel reassured that something will be done about it, they'll remain contempt.

2. Implement a loyalty program

Loyalty programs are also a great selling technique because they essentially "lock" your current patient into continuing services strictly because of the benefits they will receive.

Examples of what a loyalty program may gift to patients are priority seating, an extra massage or heat therapy, or some discount on their regular service.

Loyalty programs can cheapen particular services. This tactic isn't a good play for, dentists, gynaecologists, and general practitioners. However, it can work really well for massage therapists, cosmetic surgeons, tattoo artists, and acupuncturists.

3. Develop a patient-centric culture

To really move the needle on patient satisfaction, you have to develop a patient-centric culture within your clinic.

This is more than just a platitude. It’s about taking a look at systems and procedures to identify what can be done to reduce the likelihood of a patient having a poor experience.

For example, if you notice that patients waiting too long to be seen is a common complaint, it might be worth taking a deeper dive into your clinic's appointment system to find out where the blockage is and how it can be improved.

4. Install high-quality equipment

A clinic that has high-quality equipment, especially treatment tables, can help improve patient satisfaction.

The Alevo Pro-Lift: Apollo 5 Advantage blows patient's expectations out the window.
The Alevo Pro-Lift: Apollo 5 Advantage blows patients' expectations out the window.

Realistically, even a new gorgeous Alevo Pro-Lift: Apollo 5 Advantage won't lift your satisfaction score from a 1 to a 10. However, if you're already at 7 or 8 and looking for creative avenues to push your practice ahead of your competitors, this should be a real consideration.

5. Raise transparency in treatment costs and wait times

When patients arrive at your clinic, being clear with wait times and appointment costs can really set the tone for your patients.

No one likes surprises, especially when money or time is involved. There's nothing worse than rushing to get to an appointment and then waiting half an hour.

This is a really simple suggestion to implement too. Sometimes wait times are hard to estimate, and there might be times when unexpected costs (like including product sales in an appointment) come up, but giving a best guess is way better than nothing.

6. Focus on the overall clinic aesthetics

This is another tactic that can take your patient satisfaction from a 6 to a 9.

When patients walk into your clinic and see a modern, clean space, they're likely to feel confident in the quality of care they will receive.

This might seem a bit superficial, but in reality, it can make an enormous difference. The theory is that a nice aesthetic demonstrates to the client that you’re invested in the patient experience and aren’t cutting corners when it comes to the appearance of your clinic.

7. Personalize your services

Personalising services for patients can have a surprisingly dramatic impact on their satisfaction. Like creating a nice aesthetic, it demonstrates you (the practitioner) have taken the time to understand the patient's problems and isn't just treating them like a number in the queue.

There are a bunch of ways this can be done:

  • Scheduling appointment reminders via the method the patient prefers (email, text or phone call).
  • Offering something like water, coffee, or tea when they arrive at the clinic.
  • Booking follow ups in the time slot (i.e. early morning before work starts) that you know are the best for your patient.

They're small gestures, but they can have a lasting impact and make the patient feel like they’re being really looked after.

How to perform a patient satisfaction survey to gather valuable insights

Insights from patient surveys are the secret to improving your practice's health care quality.
Insights from patient surveys are the secret to improving your practice's health care quality.

There's a bunch of ways to survey patients. One that you'll hear a lot if you research this topic is the HCAHPS survey.

The HCAHPS survey is a pretty far-reaching method for gathering patient satisfaction information. It’s based on a range of metrics and is designed to measure the patient experience across a number of different areas.

For any regular physio or chiro clinic, it’s probably a bit overkill. It's more suited to larger facilities that have the resources to execute and analyse the survey.

Instead of using this survey, I’d recommend a more basic approach that focuses on the basics of patient satisfaction—things like waiting times, staff friendliness and professionalism.

These sorts of surveys can be set up with simple tools like SurveyMonkey, TypeForm (my favourite) or even Google Forms - although this means you won't be able to use your own branding, and it may come off a bit "cheap".

As for how to actually create the survey, I'd suggest reading CXL's guide on how to design surveys. They're not specifically writing about medical care, but the theory behind their guides is on point.

Using data analytics to improve patient satisfaction scores

Most clinics already have a system in place for managing their patient’s files, so there’s a strong chance that the data you need to help improve your clinic’s systems and procedures exists.

This is going to be different for every clinic (especially if you're a solo practitioner), but you could be looking at things like the average number of patients seen on any given day, the average time between a patient booking an appointment and being seen by a practitioner, or the most common reasons for a patient to cancel an appointment.

Advice for finding trends in data

The best advice I can give here is to use customer surveys as hints on where to look for data trends rather than the other way around.

If you can spot trends in feedback like "wait times are too long" or "I felt uncomfortable by the end of the appointment", then you can start digging into your analytics and look for data to support your hypotheses around what's happening.

Finding trends in the data without customer feedback is completely possible, too; it's just much harder, and you often get caught looking at patterns that aren't problems.


Professionals who operate in any faction of health services should be constantly looking for ways to improve patient satisfaction. Not just for the sake of keeping patients happy but also because it ultimately has an impact on your ability to sustain business.

Our best tips for improving patient satisfaction are:

  • Encourage online reviews
  • Implement a loyalty program (if it makes sense for your modality)
  • Develop patient centered care
  • Install high-quality equipment
  • Be transparent with your treatment costs and wait times
  • Get your practice's overall aesthetics right
  • Personalize your services