5 Best Practices to Build Greater Patient Satisfaction at Sports Medicine Practices

Practice Management

Patient satisfaction is a crucial component to any medical practice's success. Ensuring your patients are comfortable and pleased with the quality of care provided helps build a stronger base of loyal patients and referral sources, improves the marketability of your practice and leads to increased profitability over time. Peter Millett, MD, M.Sc., an orthopedic sports medicine physician and shoulder specialist from the Steadman Clinic in Vail, Colo., shares five fundamental best practices to build excellent patient satisfaction at your sports medicine practice.

1. Be punctual. Punctuality can make all the difference in a patient's perception of his or her care. Being on time for scheduled patient visits shows the patient you care enough to arrive on time and give the patient enough time to ask questions and fully understand the information you are trying to convey to them about their condition.

"Medicine is unpredictable by nature, but generally I try to see patients at the time they're scheduled and make every effort to give them the time they need to answer questions," Dr. Millett says. "Part of our job as sports medicine physicians is educating the patients about their conditions and about the various treatment options that are available."

2. Convey understanding about their sport and desire to return to play. A key component to achieving high patient satisfaction is making yourself accessible to patients as much as possible. This means striving to make patients happy through the little things, such as picking up and returning patients' phone calls in a timely manner and conveying comforting and reassuring body language to patients during a very anxious time in their life. This practice should be adopted not only by sports medicine physicians but also staff members.

"I try to have extremely effective communication with patients and make sure patients are having their calls answered promptly," Dr. Millett says. "I also call my patients personally and correspond by email when appropriate. When treating athletes, it is important to let them know you understand their sport and their desire to return to play."

3. Globalize, not fragment, the patient's care. Dr. Millett says patients' perception is everything when it comes to the delivery of care. This is why it is essential for sports medicine practices to effectively communicate to other providers, thereby creating a sense of globalized care rather than fragmented care. This leads patients to feel their care is truly being handled by a team of specialists.

"I believe that working with high-caliber physical therapists helps us continuously achieve that great patient satisfaction," he says. "The rehabilitation team comes and makes rounds with us to see patients, and that naturally translates into better outcomes for patients because there's continuity of care and no miscommunications. If there is a problem, it's recognized early on because there's an open communication among the entire team's members."

4. Work with the patient. Patients will appreciate your effort to work with them on a plan toward recovery. Dr. Millett says although he makes the recommendations for what the best treatment plan would be to patients, he strives to work with the patient and involve them in the final treatment decision. This can only be achieved by determining what the patient's goals are from the outset.

"For example, I may see two patients who are in need of rotator cuff surgery," he says. "But one patient, because of his or her activity level, may need one specific set of treatments, and the other patient may need an entirely different treatment plan because this patient's activity or sport is different. It's about individualizing and personalizing the care."

5. Research, research, research. Evidence-based medicine through the Steadman Clinic's research and collaboration with the Steadman Philippon Research Institute institute allows Dr. Millett to track patients before and after surgery to monitor their improvement. In post-surgical follow-up surveys, patients can indicate what complications, if any, they experienced after their treatment. This practice of gathering information and researching treatment protocols allows Dr. Millett to come up with more enhanced treatment options as time goes on, ensuring the most excellent clinical outcomes for patients.

"With real-time tracking, I can monitor 100 percent of my patients with a particular condition and know exactly what the outcomes are from the procedures I performed," he says. "If there's something I changed in the treatment protocol and one patient's outcome is improved, we know about this and if it makes sense I can quickly implement that change throughout my practice."

Learn more about the Steadman Clinic.

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