The Patient Satisfaction Magic Ratio, Part 1

July 8, 2019by Lisa Philp

The Patient Satisfaction Magic Ratio, Part 1

People are porous. They tend to absorb and reflect the atmosphere and emotions around them. According to Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman, we experience approximately 20,000 individual moments in a waking day. Each moment may only last a few seconds but each is important. Dr. John Gottman’s pioneer research on relationships suggests there is a magic ratio of five to one, in terms of our balance of positive to negative interactions.

This means that relationships are more likely to succeed when there are five positive interactions to every one negative interaction. Luckily, we as humans have a unique ability to turn negative thoughts and emotions into positive ones.

Logically, the key to improving patient satisfaction is to have the magic ratio of positive interactions between your team and patients. Communication should be thoughtful and purposeful.

Here are a few ways to hit the magic ratio and positively enhance patient satisfaction and retention:

    1. Pull, don’t push. Your team’s role is to be an advisor, not a salesperson. Case presentations should focus on the patient and their needs and wants, not you and your treatment. Patients want to be empowered and informed, not sold. Avoid using phrases like “Here’s what you must do”, or “You need to do this.” Instead, use phrases like “You may want to consider, our recommendation for your particular case is or, “This is what many of our patients choose to do.”


    1. Engage them. Always keep the patient involved in the conversation. Don’t talk “at” them, discuss care with them. Focus on asking open-ended questions probing for understanding and their emotional needs. Create a dialogue, not a monologue.


  1. Pre-frame and ask permission for every step you take. Always explain how they will benefit from what you are showing them and recommending to them. “Mrs. Smith, I would like to show you a computer presentation that will give you a complete understanding of what gum disease is all about and how it can impact your ability to keep your teeth for life.  Is that something you would like to see?”

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Lisa Philp