Patient satisfaction scores have become something of a currency in the healthcare marketplace. That’s probably truest in urgent care, where patients are making snap decisions on where to go in the next 5 minutes—often guided by Yelp, Google, and even travel sites like Travelocity. It’s so common that fear of bad reviews can creep into your mind and start affecting how you practice. The mainstream media is picking up on that concern, though the coverage is doing nothing more than fanning the flames of a false narrative. The News Tribune of Tacoma, WA just ran an article on a physician who believes her reluctance to prescribe unwarranted opiates to a patient led to her getting slammed in online reviews which, she says, damaged her career. Smart urgent care providers have figured out that how you treat a patient personally—even one who came in expecting an opiate, or an antibiotic, or anything in particular—is more likely to stoke a good or bad review. This was illustrated at a recent meeting in Denver, where industry leaders discussed responsible antibiotic prescribing. One panelist quoted research indicating that “rudeness” is the number-one complaint of patients who are dissatisfied with a visit, followed by speed of service. Disappointment over not getting a hoped-for medication was way down on the list. If you really want to impress patients—and hope they voice that favorable impression online—treat them with respect and compassion, and help them understand that you’re saying No because you want to provide the best care possible, for their benefit. You’ll probably find they give you a good word online, and return again when they need medical care based on their real needs.
Want Good Scores? Forget Giving in to Patient Demands, and Educate Them Instead