"How was your doctor visit today?" It's a seemingly simple question, but not enough healthcare providers are asking it of their patients.
Patients use many factors when choosing a new healthcare provider. Is the provider in their insurance network? Do they offer the healthcare services the patient is looking for? What qualifications and certifications does the provider have?
In this era of patient choice, though, it's often the less tangible factors that make the difference. For example, if a prospective patient perceives that the receptionist is rude, preoccupied, or just disinterested, your practice has probably lost a new customer. And if that patient posts a negative review online, you may lose more than one customer.
Patients today are looking for not only appropriate care and quality care, but also a personal connection and effective doctor-patient communication. And if they walk away feeling disappointed or dismissed, those negative emotions are more likely to find their way into online reviews, according to Hamed Qahri-Saremi of the Colorado State University College of Business.
“Once you hear that negative information, it gives you more cues as compared to the expected positive information to make a decision. it changes your attitude more strongly," he said of a recent study he conducted.
Patient reviews have become an important resource for people looking for a new doctor. It's important to encourage those who have had a good patient experience to leave online or social media reviews.
If you only have a few, old online reviews of your patients' healthcare experience, new patients may feel unsure about the legitimacy of your practice. It’s important your medical practice receive a constant stream of reviews to bring in new patients.
A physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner may feel awkward about soliciting a review of a medical professional. They need to find a way around that. Patient testimonials, doctor ratings and reviews and patient feedback are critical components of reputation management. It's risky for a medical practice to leave them entirely to chance.
In this article, we'll look at how your practice can effectively inquire into patient satisfaction, request and obtain a doctor evaluation, and share feedback with medical professionals and office staff to improve the patient experience.
Train and incentivize staff
To begin effectively soliciting and collecting patients' opinions after doctor visits, start with the clinicians and clerical staff. They may not realize how important positive online doctor reviews can be to the growth of the medical practice, especially if they are not regular users of patient evaluation websites or social media.
Emphasize the importance of patient focus in this training, along with techniques for active listening, such as not interrupting, repeating back what the patient has said, and asking questions based on responses.
Explain that patients who are asked for feedback are 2.3 times more likely to proactively submit an online review. Then, give them some scripted questions they can ask following doctor visits:
- How do you feel your appointment went today?
- Did the doctor do a good job of explaining their medical advice?
- How was the quality of your medical care?
- Did our staff meet your expectations?
Train the staff on how to accept patient complaints with good grace and to pay special attention to them. Complaints can be of tremendous help in improving service. The practice might establish a policy of a follow-up call from a medical practitioner. (This also is good for building the doctor-patient relationship.)
But if the comments are positive, encourage staff to ask the patient to review their doctor visits on sites such as Google, Facebook or WebMD (the big 3), as well as any doctor rating platforms your practice uses. Make it easy to leave a patient evaluation by providing all of the information needed to participate.
You never want to incentivize a patient to provide healthcare ratings, but there’s nothing wrong with recognizing staff members who put these practices into action. They can be incentivized based on the number of requests they make or the number of reviews they secure.
Let patients know their opinion matters
For 87% of physicians, interacting with and helping patients is the most gratifying part of their profession, according to CompHealth. Requesting patient reviews can provide you with real-time feedback that can strengthen your patient relationships — and help you provide better care.
Considering that, according to BrightLocal, 87% of people also read online reviews of local businesses, it’s easy to see that praise from a satisfied patient can hold serious clout.
Patients’ expectations are evolving, and they expect their medical practitioners to be more consumer-focused. This is one reason it’s important to let patients know that feedback after their patient visits helps you improve your service.
Acknowledge them when they leave you patient opinions sooner rather than later. A quick “thank you” can go a long way toward building that relationship with your patients.
Five-star reviews are great, but don’t ignore negative reviews. Responding to less-than-flattering reviews of patient interactions can turn a negative into a positive. It also builds confidence in the patient that their opinion matters and makes it more likely they will participate in the future.
Consider an automated review system
Automated requests for doctor reviews by patients can seem very impersonal. People get similar requests from all directions, from local restaurants to Amazon vendors.
Artificial intelligence has improved the performance of these systems, helping to create a more personalized experience for patients. Some systems are customized for the healthcare industry. Staff members can let patients know that they’ll be receiving an email containing an online review form, asking for feedback on the service they received.
Many people will not take time to write a review of a healthcare professional. It's easier to respond to a short, simple form to provide doctor ratings.
Automated systems ease the pressure on you and your staff if you forget to request feedback or simply don't have the time to discuss their patient experience in person. An automated feedback request will ensure you have a steady stream of current online reviews and keep your online reputation in top shape without adding more work to your plate.Whether you're a primary care doctor or specialist, you're doing the best you can to improve your patients' care. Don't hide that light under a bushel barrel. Ask them to review your practice and the medical care they receive.