Enhancing the Patient Experience
Although we all hear about and understand the importance of patient satisfaction, a term that is being used more and more frequently is “patient experience.” In a specialty that exists for an entirely elective procedure, one for which patients must frequently pay out of pocket because of insurance policy exclusions, a good patient experience is critical. Due to the frequent self-pay nature of some of these patients, in light of a complication, patients will have no financial recourse but to file suit. It has been said that happy patients don’t sue—and while that is a strong incentive to enhance the patient experience, it is also important to understand other aspects of the bariatric surgery patient experience. In your practice, then, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do we systematically measure the patient experience?
- Do we include questions regarding the quality of the patient education we provide?
- Are we careful to avoid accusations of weight bias?
- Do we monitor patients’ satisfaction with dietary counseling and compliance with the postoperative diet?
- Do we ask our patients whether they are satisfied with their weight loss at predetermined milestones?
While most practices participate in the MBSAQIP program and monitor quality outcomes, the sign of a high-quality program is that it provides the patient with appropriate education, appropriate procedure selection, and, most important, sustained weight-loss outcomes. Monitoring the patient experience can help you to not only improve your services to avoid litigation but also identify opportunities to improve your program’s overall outcomes.
If you aren’t measuring your patients’ experience, I encourage you to do so!
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