The Relationship between Patient Satisfaction, Quality & Revenue: 8 Questions to Ask Yourself about Your Practice

Author: Brian Taylor, Au.D.

Having spent 20 years in the profession I have had the distinct privilege of working with a variety of incredibly talented people from all walks of life. Some of them are clinical audiologists with no experience running a business; others have run Fortune 500-sized companies, but have no experience fitting hearing aids. Regardless of their backgrounds, among their commonalities is a curiosity about other people and a keen ability to ask good questions.

The ability to ask good questions in the interest of spurring debate and critical thinking is known as the Socratic Method. In the spirit of the Socratic Method, I pose eight questions to think about and debate with your colleagues and staff. It doesn’t matter if you are a clinical audiologist practicing in a VA hospital where money rarely changes hands with patients or a for-profit retail hearing aid dispensary, one of the critical issues all audiologists have to debate is how we differentiate our profession from “others”. (By others, I mean, other forms of hearing aid distribution like the Internet, other professions and other choices patients can spend their precious time and money.)

The way I see it there are no wrong answers to these questions. However, your responses to them can unlock your competitive advantage and allow you to be the premier provider of audiology services in your marketplace.
  • How does your practice provide a memorable and emotionally engaging experience with every patient and their family members?
  • What types of “cutting edge” pre-fitting procedures do you routinely conduct that make this experience stand out? Please realize I hesitate to use the term “cutting edge” when computerized probe mic and audiometer have been around more than twenty years!
  • Do you judge hearing aid success based on patient preference (“I like how these sound”) or do you incorporate other proven methods like approximating a prescriptive target and verifying it with probe microphone measures?
  • How do you demonstrate to patients that you have achieved a successful outcome with hearing aids (or other treatments)?
  • Do you make clinical decisions based on some combination of experience and scientific evidence?
  • How much time does your practice spend educating each patient on the consequences of untreated hearing loss, the importance of auditory training and how hearing aids work?
  • Does your practice provide thorough and systematic follow-up care?
  • How does your practice exude professionalism and quality?
Actionable responses to these questions are based on some level of scientific evidence. There are three recently published studies suggesting a strong positive relationship between patient satisfaction, practice revenue and quality. As a doctorate level professional, it’s your obligation to read them and utilize their insights to differentiate your practice.
References
Kochkin, S. et al (2010). MarkeTrak VIII: The impact of the hearing healthcare professional on hearing aid user success. The Hearing Review. 17, 4, 12-34.

Hear well in a noisy world. Consumer Reports. July 2009; 32-37.

Rogin, C. (2009). Top 10 Reasons for Hearing Aid Delight. Audiology Online recorded course and popular state convention presentation by Ms. Rogin

Socrates once said, “I know that I know nothing.” In today’s competitive business world, you need to make it your business to know a little something about how quality drives revenue. It all starts with your ability to ask tough questions about your practice and then put your responses into action.