Patient satisfaction: Providers keep it together

Friday, December 14, 2012

YARMOUTH, Maine – Even though significant reimbursement cuts have led to reduced services, a whopping 90% of respondents to a recent HME NewsPoll say patient satisfaction levels increased or remained stable in 2012.

One key to keeping customers happy, one respondent says: communication.

“Patient satisfaction is directly related to the level of expectation,” said Douglas Zaer, CEO of Superior Mobility in Torrance, Calif. “We have increased customer contact and made an effort to explain what we can and can’t do. The result has been greater customer satisfaction.”

Nearly all respondents say they track patient satisfaction levels (95%).

While a large majority of respondents reported increased or stable patient satisfaction levels overall, they acknowledge they’ve taken hits here and there.

“With reduced visits to patients, our scores for equipment satisfaction and education have decreased,” said Lee Guay, director of Genesis Home Medical Equipment in Davenport, Iowa.

About 10% of respondents say patient satisfaction levels decreased in 2012—largely due to changes they’ve had to make to their businesses to maintain cash flow.

“If they need some supplies ‘today’ we ask them to come in, or wait until we are in their area,” said Rick Wilson, vice president of Apguard Medical in Woodland, Calif. “If a patient wants some items, it is C.O.D. (cash on delivery) before we start our trucks.”

Respondents only wish that their, for the most part, high patient satisfaction levels, would somehow influence the insurers who hold the purse strings.

“That’s the greatest irony of our industry,” said Lori Sears, owner of Active Home Medical Supply in Lapeer, Mich. “The patients and caregivers love us but the payers seem to despise us and see us as nothing more than crooks or a cost on their balance sheets.”