No matter what kind of business you’re running, feedback is always valuable. It’s the best way to gauge customer satisfaction and pinpoint any issues that need to be addressed. In fact, feedback is so important that a person could travel down a seemingly endless rabbit hole at Harvard Business Review on the topics of giving feedback and receiving it — if they were so inclined.
For healthcare providers, feedback is critical for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it tells you how your patients perceive your practice and the care you provide. This, in turn, helps you improve your quality of care and patient satisfaction — which ultimately aids with both new patient acquisition and retention. Patient attrition is on the rise, with 36% of patients saying they’ve left a healthcare provider in the past two years. And eight out of 10 did so because of a poor in-person experience and/or lack of access and communication. Which makes it all the more vital that you take the temperature of your practice’s performance from the people who know best — your patients.
“36% of patients have left a healthcare provider in the last two years, and eight out of 10 of them did so because of a poor in-person experience ”
The good news is, once you get your feedback loop working in a virtuous cycle, you’ll see increased revenue and growth. Here are a few ways patient feedback can help you improve your care, enhance your reputation, and grow your practice.
Feedback helps providers understand patient wants
Having a clear picture of patient expectations is one of the main reasons practices should seek feedback. Maybe your patients expect to schedule appointments online (did you know 73% of patients do?) and you’re not offering that option yet.
They could find your bills confusing or the waiting room drab. Maybe they would prefer to get appointment reminders via text message. Perhaps there’s one member of the front office team that’s a quiet rockstar who always goes above and beyond for patients. But if you don’t ask what your patients are thinking, you’ll never know.
Without finding out what your patients like and dislike across the entire patient experience — from how they find your practice and schedule appointments to the care they receive — there’s no way for your practice to implement changes to better serve them. And improving patient satisfaction and engagement is the surest way to retain patients.
Patient feedback can help providers boost online reputation
There’s no underestimating the power of a positive online reputation. In today’s digital world, it’s your top tool for attracting and acquiring new patients. The opposite is also true: A negative reputation can deter prospective patients from trusting your practice with their health.
Some 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they do personal recommendations. According to our patient survey, three out of four people have searched online to find a doctor and 74% say they find online reviews helpful when choosing a provider. A further 61% say they won’t consider a provider with an average star rating lower than 4 out of 5. This means ensuring that patients who are satisfied with your practice share testimonials on social media or review websites is crucial to success.
Patient feedback helps providers give better care
Once a patient has left your office (or completed a telehealth visit), you only have a short window in which to connect, catch up, and address their needs. That’s difficult under even the best of circumstances. Without knowing how that patient encounter went — Did you provide the necessary care? The right advice and counsel? Did the patient think you seemed rushed or too focused on the EHR? — you’ll never be able to step back, assess your performance, and work to make it better for the next time.
As a provider, you should always be striving to specifically understand how your performance impacts patient perceptions about quality of care. This is crucial not just for a practice’s online reputation but especially if and when you begin to take on value-based reimbursements.
Feedback can create a culture of open communication and continuous improvement
The only constant is change — and that’s certainly never been more true than in today’s healthcare landscape. The best strategy to stay relevant and drive continuous improvement is to build a culture of open communication amongst staff of all levels, where any idea that might benefit the practice is discussed.
Openly sharing and analyzing patient feedback on front office and provider performance is one of the best ways to create the psychological safety that’s inherent in the highest performing teams. Once this trust is established amongst teammates, constructive dialogues can take place that uncover ways the practice’s performance can be improved for the benefit of patients.
Patients are the customers of medical practices. Without soliciting feedback from them on your performance, it’s almost impossible to improve your business. Feedback, then, is the only foolproof way for physicians and practices to truly become patient-centric.
Even negative feedback provides an opportunity for growth
This may seem counterintuitive, but it’s true — as long as you respond to it in a timely manner. Most of the time when a patient posts negative feedback, they just want to be heard. When a practice responds to negative feedback, 81% of patients are satisfied. However, there’s an over 7x increase in dissatisfaction when you don’t respond. So be prompt. Monitor feedback regularly and reply directly to any negative posts within a day or two at the most. Thank them for their feedback, let them know they’re being heard, and offer to take the conversation offline. This way, other prospective patients will see how quickly you responded, which is good for your reputation, and you can address their concerns privately, maintaining HIPAA compliance.
Collecting feedback is easier than you think
Patients are 22% more likely to give feedback when asked. While requesting patient reviews can seem daunting, it doesn’t have to be. Instead of asking in person, which might feel awkward or intrusive, sending a digital request is easier for everyone and provides an immediate opportunity to respond. With automated patient feedback surveys, it’s simple to encourage patients to post positive reviews online, too. In fact, we found that patients who providers asked for feedback were 2.3x more likely to post one.
Your patients are your number one source of insights into how well your practice is performing and the quality of care you and your team are providing. So do your practice (and yourself) a favor and start collecting patient feedback today.