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Several factors can affect healthcare customer satisfaction, including actual outcomes after service or treatment, attitudes of caregivers such as doctors and nurses, and the cost of services. Customer satisfaction in healthcare also is affected by whether patients are receiving services they may not want. This makes customer satisfaction in the healthcare industry somewhat different from customer satisfaction in the retail industry, where customers likely have more choice about what they are purchasing. Customer satisfaction in healthcare is sometimes measured by surveys after service has been rendered.
One major factor in healthcare customer satisfaction is the actual outcome of service. Patients who improve or get better because of the treatment, therapy, care or medication they receive are much more likely to report feeling satisfied with their experience. Doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals cannot guarantee that every patient improves. When patients understand the medical treatment they received was necessary and beneficial for them, they are likely to have positive feelings about it, even if they did not feel as positive about the service they were receiving when they were sick or debilitated.
Another integral factor that can determine healthcare customer satisfaction is the attitude and treatment patients receive from doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals. Patients want, and should expect to receive, professional care that is courteous, polite, caring and empathetic. Even if a patient fully recovers as the result of an office visit, hospital stay, medication or physical therapy, he or she is unlikely to have a high degree of healthcare customer satisfaction if the doctors or nurses were unfriendly, uncaring, rude or rushed. Healthcare workers must make patients feel as if the members of the medical team are truly concerned about their health and well being, and they should take time to listen to and answer patients' questions.
A final yet important factor in determining healthcare customer satisfaction has to do with the cost of services. Healthcare is expensive, but those costs can be somewhat offset if patients have health insurance, if they compare prices for the same services among various professionals, and if they are able to work out a deal or reasonable payment plan with healthcare office managers. Patients who feel they are receiving a fair price for the services they have received and who do not feel hassled or pressured to pay all of their expenses immediately are more likely to report feeling satisfied with their healthcare experience.
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