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January 18, 2019
Encouraging feedback, listening to and responding to patients is a key contributor to long term business success. This can best be done via patient surveys, monitoring online reviews and measuring important patient statistics within your practice.
Patient Surveys, it is easier than you think
Healthcare professionals are highly focused on achieving the best possible outcomes when caring for patients’ health but seeking feedback in an effort to improve the overall patient experience is often not a priority.
Almost 40% of medical practices don’t have a formal feedback strategy, yet performed thoughtfully and with adequate follow-up, the results of patient surveys can immediately affect your practice’s business results. Why? No matter how good the other elements of your practice are, it is satisfied patients that are essential to your practice’s continued success, no matter your practice size, speciality, or location.
What should a survey achieve?
Before undertaking any questionnaire, it is important to prioritise its objectives in order to ensure the survey itself is manageable for the person completing it and it delivers information that is actionable.
Common areas for measurement can be:
• Business effectiveness e.g. patient loyalty
• Patient satisfaction e.g. measurement of key variables such as waiting time, appointment setting, communication
• Services offered e.g. evaluation of services offered by the practice
Once you have agreed on the objectives for a survey it can be provided to patients in two ways:
1 – Traditional paper-based survey physically handed to each patient in the waiting room for them to fill out and return via a locked box to ensure the confidentiality of the process. Older patients are more likely to feel comfortable utilising this type of survey rather than a digital questionnaire. This is the simplest way to collect data.
2 – Digital survey by email, utilising the services of easy to use programs like SurveyMonkey. Many people, particularly those under 50 are increasingly used to receiving and returning this type of information electronically but it is not always possible due to patient confidentiality.
Each have their merits and can be utilised together. Whichever method you adopt will depend on the patient profile of your practice.
TIPS FOR INCREASING SURVEY COMPLETION RATES
Do keep it simple.
Rating scales get good results
(“On a scale of 1-10, how satisfied were you…)
Don’t make it too long.
Ask only what you really need to know that can affect to change.
Online reviews matter – as shown by these statistics gathered from research undertaken in 2018.
• 92% of people regularly or occasionally read online reviews
• 90% of people say that the online reviews they read influence their decisions
• 88% of people trust online reviews written by people they don’t know as much as they trust the recommendations of people they do know
Your digital reputation is very important and it is vital to be an active participant in the management of reviews you may receive online, specially those on Google. As you are not able to delete these, it is crucial to proactively monitor your Google listing and respond to every review received in a diplomatic and sincere manner. Don’t think that not having a Google listing will overcome any potential negative feedback, Google may just develop a listing for you anyway (‘unclaimed’).
There is evidence that fostering meaningful and timely feedback has multiple benefits to both patient and practice so it is vital to ensure that reviewing feedback becomes regularly programmed into your practice routine.
Track and measure patient statistics
A simple way to gain insight into key loyalty and satisfaction dynamics is to review your practice management reports on a regular basis.
Some key measures to monitor are:
• Percentage of repeat (loyal) patients over time and monitor any significant fluctuations of this (if applicable).
• Percentage of new patients as a result of ‘word of mouth’ (tracked via patient registration forms) from satisfied patients. If this drops, it may be time to review what could be impacting negatively on your practice.