Health Center Patients Highly Satisfied with Experience

Patients of CHCN’s eight health center member clinics reported overall high levels of satisfaction with their experience, based on the 2013 Patient Satisfaction Survey (PSS) distributed during the week of October 28, 2013.

Patients of CHCN health centers had a high overall satisfaction rate of 89%. Eighty-six percent of patients reported that it was easy to be seen at our clinics. In addition, CHCN health center patients reported high levels of satisfaction with clinic office hours and staff services. Ninety-four percent of patients would recommend the health centers to others. In 2012, satisfaction levels across all three measures dropped following a period of stable performance from 2006 to 2011; satisfaction levels improved slightly in 2013.

As in previous years, patients are less satisfied with phone access, both during and after business hours, with satisfaction rates of 70% and 62%. Waiting time in waiting areas and exam rooms was another area receiving low scores. The average satisfaction rates were 71% and 74%, respectively.

The PSS is a one-page questionnaire consisting of fourteen questions regarding the patients’ experience with the clinic services they received during the previous twelve-month period. The questions in the survey included ease of being seen, clinic hours, phone access during and after office hours, access to specialists, emergency room visits because patient could not make a same day appointment, waiting times during visits, providers’ skills of listening to patients and explaining health issues, and overall satisfaction. Patients could rate their experiences with the following choices; great, good, fair, and poor.

Patient satisfaction measures key aspects of the quality of services as perceived by patients. Poor patient satisfaction contributes to patient turnover and poorer compliance with treatment plans. The Community Health Center Network (CHCN) has an active clinical quality improvement program led by the medical director of each member health center. Patient satisfaction is one of several performance topics monitored in the annual quality improvement plan. It is used for risk share distribution (CHCN’s version of a “pay for performance” program). CHCN’s risk-share payments for patient satisfaction are based on the patients overall satisfaction rate, the ease of being seen, and getting through on the phone during clinic hours.

These results were discussed during the January network Medical Director Meeting. The Medical Directors shared a concern that challenges in phone access might impact patients’ overall satisfaction. They plan to discuss best practices at a subsequent meeting to help identify potential solutions.