Today’s blog post comes from Ann Wendel, PT. Ann is the owner of PranaPT, a member of WebPT, and an active social media participant (@PranaPT). Thanks, Ann!

In today’s market, where patients have greater access to information and higher expectations for the quality of care they receive, the issue of patient satisfaction has received a great deal of attention.

When you hear the words “patient satisfaction,” what images come to mind? Do you view patients as consumers? Are you happy to increase the chances that your patients will feel satisfied with the care they receive from your practice? Or do you feel irritated by the notion of “catering” to your patients? Does your employer tie bonuses and salary increases to your patient satisfaction scores? Is that ethical?

Many articles have been written about patient satisfaction as it relates to the healthcare profession: “How Patient Satisfaction Can Kill,” “Patient Satisfaction Doesn’t Mean the Best Medical Care,” and “Why Linking Patient Satisfaction with Dollars is Misguided.” After all, we’re not in retail where the “customer is always right.” We are called upon to provide not what the patient wants, but what the patient needs. These are often very different things.

I have spoken with many therapists and orthopedic surgeons, regarding how they assess the level of satisfaction patients have with their care. Many clinicians ask patients to fill out a satisfaction survey on their final appointment. Some use plug-and-play survey tools like surveygizmo or SurveyMonkey, while others have made up their own. Regardless of survey type, I believe that the key to having a useful survey is to ask the right questions. And the key to increasing patient satisfaction is to choose the appropriate treatment while educating the patient on why you’re doing what you’re doing.

Although the care of patients involves many different activities, the two main aspects of care are the technical and the interpersonal. As the physical therapy industry continues to push for evidence-based practice, we as therapists are doing a better job of providing technically improved care. We are taking a hard look at the way we have always done things and asking if the evidence really supports the continued use of certain modalities and techniques in practice. This is vital to advancing our profession. The trick is to continue to focus on the other aspect of care, the interpersonal, at the same time.

Evidence suggests that by encouraging patients to take an active role in their health care we can increase the effectiveness of their therapeutic activities. This article from 1985 presents an idea that I believe is still relevant to this discussion. The title says it all: “Building an effective doctor-patient relationship: from patient satisfaction to patient participation.” The article states that “physicians are urged to involve patients in an informed decision making process by eliciting and including patient preferences in a health program that incorporates an active patient role.” This quote truly gets to the heart of the matter: In order for our evidence-based treatments to actually be effective (and therefore lead to patient satisfaction scores that are truly representative of the quality of care), we need to get the patient to “buy-in” first.

The best way to get buy-in is to involve patients in the decision-making process and educate them about the treatment plan. How many times do we conduct a technically perfect initial evaluation and then give the patient the “correct” home exercise program, only to have them come back for the next appointment stating that they haven’t tried the home exercises? We then feel frustrated and often blame the patient for non-compliance, when the real problem is that the patient never bought into the plan in the first place. Thus begins a negative cycle of patient non-compliance and therapist frustration that ultimately leads to poor patient satisfaction scores.

I propose that we involve patients in the healing process from the moment we meet them. In the initial evaluation, we need to ask our patients “How can I help you?” and “What can’t you do that you want to do?” From there, we need to educate them about our findings from the assessment and tie those findings into the goals we are setting in the treatment plan. During treatment sessions, we need to explain how a specific exercise or technique will assist them in reaching their goals, and then we need to hold them accountable for doing their part in the process. We must emphasize the importance of the patient’s active participation in the success of the treatment plan.

It is also important to determine what might be standing in the way of the patient’s compliance with attending appointments and/or performing home exercises. Is it difficult to find parking at your facility? (It is at my office, where only street parking is available, so I tell patients this when they schedule their first appointment). Is the patient caring for small children and an aging parent? (Then perhaps their home exercise program should consist of one to two very focused exercises they perform several times a day as time allows). In short, we need to set our patients up for success, not blame them for failure.

As therapists, we are in the unique position of spending a substantial amount of time with our patients each week. By developing a mutually respectful relationship and educating our patients about the treatment process, we can increase our overall success with each patient. And that’s what patient satisfaction is all about: the experience of technical and interpersonal success.

Modern Marketing Decoded: A Guide for Rehab Therapist - Regular BannerModern Marketing Decoded: A Guide for Rehab Therapist - Small Banner
  • Establishing Community Connections for Your PT Practice Image

    articleMay 22, 2014 | 4 min. read

    Establishing Community Connections for Your PT Practice

    In the digital age, it’s easy for physical therapists to get caught up in developing a social media presence at the expense of developing face-to-face relationships in their own communities. While it’s vital to have an easy-to-navigate website that uses SEO to reach your target audience, there are a few things you can add to your marketing program to develop a strong local presence. Here are five ways to connect with your community and build relationships that …

  • articleJan 28, 2013 | 2 min. read

    How to Get Your Phone to Ring off the Hook with New Patients

    Today's blog post comes from Jack Sparacio , MSPT, COMT, CFMT, and owner of PT Marketing Consultants and Sparacio Physical Therapy . Follow him on Twitter at @SparacioPT. > You could wait for the phone to just magically start ringing—or you could start thinking like an entrepreneur! In his bestselling, must-read book The E-myth Revisited , author Michael Gerber draws the distinction between "working in your business" and "working on your business.” While this might sound like …

  • articleSep 15, 2013 | 4 min. read

    Use Promotional Products to Grow your Business and Boost Referrals

    Today's blog post comes from Tom Killingsworth, owner of Hadley Promotions in Phoenix, Arizona. Visit him on LinkedIn , or email him questions at . Thanks, Tom! Rehab therapists should continually market their services to stay top-of-mind with current and potential customers as well as referring physicians. One way to do so is through promotional marketing. As the owner of a company that provides imprinted products and branded merchandise and apparel (with many customers who are …

  • articleAug 29, 2013 | 4 min. read

    Empathy as Innovation

    Today’s blog post comes from  Ann Wendel , PT . Ann is the owner of  PranaPT , a member of WebPT, and an active Tweeter ( @PranaPT ). Thanks, Ann! The theme for this month on the WebPT blog is innovation, and they’ve been highlighting new ideas for business, technology, products, and marketing. As I thought about innovative concepts in physical therapy, I was brought back to an old concept: empathy. Empathy has been defined as the …

  • articleApr 16, 2012 | 3 min. read

    How To Build Profitable Relationships and Grow Your Practice

    Our contributing blogger today is WebPT Member,  Jack Sparacio, MSPT, COMT, CFMT . He is also the Owner and President of  Sparacio Physical Therapy P.C.  in New York. We're excited to have Jack sharing his expertise. Thanks Jack! PEOPLE DO BUSINESS WITH PEOPLE THEY KNOW! This is universally accepted as one of the golden rules of marketing. If you want your clinic and/or company to grow, you need to develop relationships with people (especially physicians).  So, the million …

  • 3 Quick Wins for Your Online Marketing Strategy Image

    articleMar 24, 2015 | 6 min. read

    3 Quick Wins for Your Online Marketing Strategy

    Starting a clinic in a new city—with new referral sources and limited networks—can be very challenging. But with the right online marketing strategy, you can expedite the process. In fact, over the last three months, I’ve been able to grow my patient base by using old school word-of-mouth marketing and establishing an online presence in the local community. There are many ways to use the power of the Internet to market to patients and referring providers, and …

  • Six Steps for PTs Considering Crowd-Funding Image

    articleMay 14, 2014 | 8 min. read

    Six Steps for PTs Considering Crowd-Funding

    Your next-generation rehab tool is poised to be a big hit in the market, but you can’t construct a prototype because you are maxed out on credit cards. You’re looking to expand your practice to a second location and are on a capital campaign to secure the lease and fund the build-out. Maybe you’re simply trying to purchase a much-needed piece of equipment for you clinic, but the bank isn’t extending your business’s line of credit. What …

  • 4 Creative Ways to Leverage Online Patient Reviews Image

    articleMar 15, 2018 | 5 min. read

    4 Creative Ways to Leverage Online Patient Reviews

    If you’ve been reading the WebPT Blog for any amount of time, you’ve most likely come across a post or two about the importance of cultivating a plethora of positive online reviews. After all, online reviews provide prospective patients with the social proof they may need to choose your practice over another. They also set a baseline for the patient experience—and help improve your findability online. While you could certainly glean a ton of great benefits from …

  • How to Use Online Networking to Boost Your PT Business Image

    articleFeb 28, 2019 | 12 min. read

    How to Use Online Networking to Boost Your PT Business

    The prospect of building a physical therapy business can feel daunting, but the advent of social media has made certain aspects of the process dramatically easier—namely, networking. While online networking can seem a bit unnatural to many of us at first, pushing past the discomfort can be the one of the best things we’ll ever do for our personal and professional growth. Whether the end goal is to attract patients to a traditional or telehealth practice, forge …

Achieve greatness in practice with the ultimate EMR for PTs, OTs, and SLPs.