One of the most important changes brought about by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will kick in over the next few years when patient satisfaction becomes an integral part of physician payment. This is already the case in large practices and hospitals where a portion of their payment is linked to satisfied patients.
The logic behind this change is simple. Physicians with satisfied patients should receive higher payments than physicians with dissatisfied patients. That’s because satisfied patients are more compliant and thus healthier, and healthier patients are less costly to the healthcare system.
The ACA’s new quality metrics put the patient in the driver’s seat when it comes to deciding what constitutes quality care – by adding patient satisfaction to the quality-payment equation. It also spells out the contributing factors of patient satisfaction: timely appointments and care, physician’s communication skills, patient’s opinion of the physician and staff and an office that runs on schedule.
In essence, healthcare reform makes patient satisfaction more about the caring than the care. Thus, private-practice physicians who enjoy high patient satisfaction should use it as a healthcare marketing strategy and feature it prominently in their medical practice marketing and patient education materials.