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Insights for those starting, managing, and growing independent healthcare practices

4 ways to improve patient satisfaction scores with digital experiences

Find out how providing up-to-date digital experiences can make a positive impact on patient satisfaction scores.

Physician smiling and speaking with patient about patient satisfaction scores

At a Glance

  • By implementing online booking and 2-way texting, practices can provide patients with more convenient ways to schedule appointments and contact the office.
  • Telehealth opportunities give patients flexibility and improve efficiency.
  • Patient portals and messaging tools allow more communication between visits, so patients can self-manage conditions and keep doctors updated between appointments.

Have you ever wondered why patient satisfaction scores consistently improve when practices add digital experiences? 

Tebra’s 4th annual Patient Perspectives report reveals that patients want:

  • To easily schedule appointments or make other office contact
  • Ways to do more online
  • More frequent check-ins and communication between visits

It may come as a surprise that patients want to be hands-on when it comes to their experiences. Still, this desire is a natural progression of our current technological environment. Supporting the patient experience in this way can also complement your overall practice marketing strategy.

Our Patient Perspectives report reveals ways to improve patients’ impressions of their encounters with your practice while improving patient satisfaction scores. Read on to discover 4 key things patients want from their digital experience.

Patient Perspectives Report

1. Easier ways to book an appointment 

According to Tebra’s Patient Perspectives report, 39% of respondents want an easier way to book appointments. This begs the question: easier than what?

We live in an unprecedented time of instant information. In a study about putting customers on hold that involved 2,500 participants, 60% of respondents reported that they’ll hang up after holding for 1 minute. About 34% said they thought they shouldn’t be put on hold at all.

So how do you avoid putting people on hold?

  • Let patients choose how to use their time. Use a technological solution that creates a virtual waiting room in which callers can indicate they prefer to “maintain their position in line” and receive a call back instead of staying on the line. This results in minimal hold time.
  • Enable online appointment booking. Technological solutions can allow patients to make an appointment based on what works best for their schedules. Provider offices can control the parameters so patients can only book appointment types that fit with their needs. (There’s no worry of a new patient getting a 10-minute slot.)
  • Use a service that specializes in scheduling appointmentsYour online scheduling program must be in sync with your in-office schedule to be effective. Additionally, by outsourcing scheduling to software, you can track metrics (like no-show rates) and lighten the load on your office staff.

Even though self-service began to roll out in the late 1990s/early 2000s, people have become much more open to taking charge of this area of their lives.

2. Easier ways to contact the practice

Although it may seem to be the same as scheduling appointments, communication is a broader topic. Tebra’s patient survey found that 37% of the respondents want to be able to reach out and quickly receive answers to their questions.

Tebra’s patient survey found that 37% of the respondents want to be able to reach out and quickly receive answers to their questions. ”

This doesn’t mean patients feel they should no longer have to appear before their physicians. Rather, they don’t want to wait multiple weeks or months to get a general question answered.

Multiple systems exist that provide a robust digital patient experience. This could be anything from enabling 2-way texting or reminder emails to having new patients complete pre-visit paperwork. 

This also aligns with the 30% of survey respondents who want to be able to do more online, whether that be:

  • Choosing a specific provider within your practice
  • Using a smartphone, tablet, or computer to complete paperwork rather than having to keep track of paper
  • Accessing historical test results and visit notes
  • Checking in for their appointment online instead of waiting in person to do so

Offering more digital patient experiences can help patients reduce stress levels and feel more in control.

Pro tip: Modernizing the patient experience can also support a practice marketing strategy. For instance, digital ads can link directly to your online booking page, and chatbots and messaging can allow you to address any roadblocks prospects might have to choosing your practice. Learn more in your guide to building an effective healthcare marketing strategy.

Download the report

3. More opportunities for telehealth appointments

Along the lines of being more efficient, patients have learned they like the ability to conduct general visits via telehealth portals. Nearly 25% of survey respondents indicated they’d prefer to have the option of telehealth visits as opposed to:

  • Driving to the physical location, spending time commuting that could be put to better use
  • Searching, and in some cases paying, for parking
  • Sitting in a germ-filled waiting room or being concerned about passing their germs to others

Although it cannot satisfy every appointment need, Mayo Clinic suggests that telehealth can be used for a multitude of issues and treatments, such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Colds and coughs
  • COVID-19 symptoms
  • Depression
  • Diabetes care
  • Migraines
  • Some skin conditions

Because video technology has improved so much over the years, there are even instances of basic neurological functioning assessments conducted via telehealth.

4. More communication between visits

As you continue to grow your practice, it becomes more challenging to remember each patient and their particular needs, especially if you don’t see them for months. Patients know this, and 34% of survey respondents indicated they want more communication with their physician between visits.

Although 23% of patients responding to Tebra’s survey reported they would prefer to have more frequent check-ins and visits, even more (34%) indicated they would like more communication with their physician between visits.

According to Tebra's survey, 34% of patients would like more communication with their physician between visits. ”

One way to accomplish this is to encourage your patients to use a patient portal messaging tool. This allows them to check in with you and notify you of changes they experience in their health.

By empowering them to self-manage their chronic conditions from home, they may be able to both avoid unnecessary office visits and know to come in when they most need to do so. By educating them about what kind of information and concerns are appropriate for messaging, a well-designed messaging system can minimize additional work. 

Moving your practice forward

Change is inevitable — including within your practice. Providing more robust digital patient experiences will show that you care about your patients’ time and priorities and are current with various enhancements and developments.

Patients will notice you are up to date on patient communication and alternative methods for accomplishing tasks. Therefore, they’ll likely be more confident that you are also up to date on new medical information, improving confidence levels and referrals.

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Karmin Gentili

Karmin Gentili has been a freelance writer and editor since 2016. She has over 25 years of experience in corporate HR and compliance consulting. She has worked to further elevate her skills by pursuing and receiving multiple certifications, including copywriting, video scriptwriting, effective content positioning, case study writing, and SEO. Her love of writing motivates her to use those skills to develop content for the medical field that ensures others can work toward achieving their goals.

Reviewed by

Lauren Wheeler, BCPA, MD

Dr. Lauren Wheeler, MD, BCPA, is a former family medicine physician who currently works as an independent healthcare advocate as well as a medical editor and writer. You can get in touch with her about anything writing or advocacy at her website

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