Utilizing Patient Satisfaction to Improve Access and Quality of Care

Patient satisfaction encompasses various aspects of healthcare delivery, including the ease of making appointments, the efficiency of visits, the quality of care provided, and the overall patient experience. In Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), resources are often limited, while demand is high; therefore, understanding how to leverage patient satisfaction can provide invaluable insights into those areas of the health center that can be utilized as opportunities for improvement. 

Evaluating patient satisfaction and obtaining feedback is important for a number of reasons, including the following:

  1. Feedback obtained from patients highlights specific areas where the health center may be falling short. Some examples include extended wait times, either on the telephone or in the main lobby, difficulty in scheduling appointments, or dissatisfaction with the level of care. By systematically collecting and analyzing patient feedback, FQHCs can easily identify the exact issue that needs to be addressed and develop a corrective plan of action. 
  2. Patients who are satisfied are more likely to have honest and open communication with their healthcare providers. This leads to better diagnosis, treatment and follow-up care, as patients feel more comfortable discussing their symptoms and concerns.
  3. Patient satisfaction can lead to greater trust and loyalty, encouraging patients to return to the health center for future care, remain compliant with the prescribed plan of care, and recommend the health center to others. This can be particularly important in underserved communities where cultural and religious beliefs, as well as trust in healthcare providers, has the ability to significantly impact health outcomes.


Although the collection of patient satisfaction data is important, a crucial component is to utilize data to improve access and quality. Strategies for improvement include the following:

  1. Implement regular patient satisfaction surveys to gather ongoing feedback and ensure compliance with the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Health Center Program Requirements (HRSA Compliance Manual – Chapter 10). Surveys should cover various aspects of the patient experience, including the ease of appointment scheduling, the cost of care, the cleanliness of the facility and the perceived quality of care.
  2. Feedback often reveals issues with access, such as difficulty in making appointments. FQHCs can use this information to evaluate efficiencies, streamline appointment systems, consider online booking options, and implement reminder systems. 
  3. Extended wait times are a frequent source of patient dissatisfaction. FQHCs can utilize data from patient satisfaction surveys to identify challenges with peak times and optimize scheduling and staffing to reduce waiting periods.
  4. Improve access and continuity of care by utilizing health information technology, such as electronic health records (EHRs) and telehealth services. These tools can also facilitate better communication between patients and providers, enhancing the overall patient experience.


FQHCs should establish metrics to measure the success of their initiatives, such as patient satisfaction scores, appointment availability, and patient retention rates, as the process of improving is ongoing. Routine review and evaluation of these metrics, combined with continuous patient feedback, fosters improvement. By actively seeking and responding to patient feedback, FQHCs can identify areas for improvement, enhance patient-provider relationships, and ultimately provide better care to the target population being served. 

Resources for assessing patient satisfaction in FQHCs can be found at CAHPS Clinician & Group Survey and Press Ganey.

Have a question?