Every day, patients have an experience at your practice. For some it is good, for others it is bad, and for still others it is just ordinary. While you want to wow everyone all the time, it just isn’t possible.
Most of the time patients leave because the expectations they had were not met. While sometimes this leaving is accompanied by a negative review which can significantly impact your online presence and search rankings, more often it happens in silence, which is worse in many ways.
- You can’t fix what is wrong if you don’t know how it affects your patients.
- It costs at least 25 to 50% more to acquire a new patient than to keep an existing one.
- Because they do not tell you does not mean a patient is not sharing their negative experience
- The unhappy patient is not referring other patients to you, and word of mouth is still the best advertising.
On the flip side, if things are going right, you need to know that as well, so you can continue to do those things and constantly improve the patient experience. Patients are also more likely to leave negative reviews than positive ones unless you do one simple thing: ask for them.
Make Asking for Feedback a Part of Your Culture
When patients come into your practice, they should have as many opportunities as possible to give you feedback, from verbal and written to online. There are two key components to making this a part of your daily operations.
Provide Opportunities: Do you have feedback forms and suggestion boxes in your office that patients have easy access to? Is there a phone number and email or web address posted where they are encouraged to let you know how you are doing?
Not everyone uses email, text, or the web, so you should offer other means for patients to let you know how you are doing, even if by voicemail or a printed form. Offer them the option to remain anonymous too. While you want them to leave their contact information so you can try to resolve problems individually some patients are not comfortable doing so.
Use Pre-Screening Technology: Texting and emailing each patient after they visit your practice could quickly turn into a full-time job. Fortunately, there is software designed to send requests for feedback automatically. It does not mean that your staff should not mention reviews and ask about patient experience when they check out.
It could be something as simple as asking: “How was your visit today?” An office staff member can then follow up by saying “within the next 24 hours you will get a text or email asking you for feedback about how our practice is doing. If you could, please take a few minutes to let us know. Your opinion is really important to us.”
Analyze Feedback to Improve
Patient feedback can inform you about several aspects of your practice. While asking for feedback is vital to reputation management, equally important is looking at and listening to what the data tells you.
- If wait times are a common complaint, change your scheduling template.
- If out of date lobby publications are a complaint, get some new ones.
- Offer Wi-Fi and meaningful entertainment.
- If rude staff is a complaint, address and correct these issues.
Continue to collect and analyze feedback so you can continue to improve. Respond not just by replying to customers but by making changes where possible.
Protect the Data Collected
A big part of collecting feedback you get from your customers is protecting their personal information. While patient surveys may not be a part of their patient record, they can still contain sensitive information about name, contact information, diagnosis, and more. It is your job as a healthcare provider to keep that information secure, and to respond in a way that also protects patient information.
You probably won’t get meaningful feedback from your patients whether that is positive or negative unless you ask. You need to make asking for a collecting feedback from your patients a part of your culture, use the data you collect to learn and improve, and protect that data like any other patient information you receive and store.