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In today’s competitive healthcare market, it’s crucial that physicians striving for financial success take the time to understand what their patients really need and want from their practice. A well-planned patient feedback system can help physicians identify gaps, make changes that will improve satisfaction, quality of care, attract new patients, increase patient engagement, and foster loyalty.  

A patient feedback system is much more than asking patients to answer a survey or leave an online review. All data is not created equal when it comes to finding insights that lead to actionable changes and improvements. There are necessary steps you must take before implementing a feedback system to ensure you’re collecting the right information from your patients, and accurately capturing how they feel about your practice. Here’s how to get started.

1. Form a committee

Create a committee that’s made up of at least one physician and administrative staff member to plan, develop and implement the patient feedback system, execute follow up and make changes.

You’ll need to decide what areas the patient feedback surveys will address such as appointments and scheduling, office visits, after-hours care, the patient portal or the overall practice, for example.

You’ll also need to determine if you’ll need an outside vendor to conduct the surveys or if your staff can handle it, the specific patient groups you’ll include, how the surveys will be conducted (in person or online), and how often you plan to ask for patient feedback. 

2. Think about patient demographics

When it comes to deciding which channels you’ll use to target patients, take into account age, and other demographic factors, as well as opt-in preferences. For example, seniors may be more likely to fill out a print survey at the time of the visit while millennials and baby boomers will prefer an online survey. TypeForm or Survey Monkey are two basic services that can help you create your own surveys. If you need a more in-depth solution, look for a partner like Binary Fountain

3. Ask for a review

Your online reputation is a vital part of growing your medical practice. In fact, 62 percent of people say reading online reviews is the first step before they select a doctor, according to a report by Software Advice.

After each appointment, send patients an email with a link to your ZocDoc or Google listing and ask them to leave a review. You can offer an incentive to do so—like a chance to win a product or a gift card.

4. Follow up within 24 hours

Time is of the essence when asking for patient feedback. In fact, 73 percent of patients want to be asked for feedback a few minutes to a few hours after a care event, according to a 2017 study by NRC Health.

Asking for feedback immediately can increase the likelihood that patients will not only fill out the survey but they’ll provide as much feedback as possible because their visit is still fresh in their minds. Ask patients to fill out a survey in the office following their visits or send an email or SMS with a link to the survey.

5. Shadow patients

Rather than ask patients to fill out a survey, you can create a more personalized experience, save time and get real-time feedback by assigning a medical assistant or staff member to the task. Explain to patients the practice’s goal to improve care and request their permission to accompany them during the visit. The staff member can observe and take notes of each visit and tailor the survey for each patient.

6. Follow up

Whether it’s poor feedback, a complaint or a negative online review, always follow up with patients to get more information, try to resolve the issue and put a plan in place to prevent the same problem in the future. If the issue can be resolved and patients feel heard, chances are they’ll leave a positive online review.

7. Make changes

With a holistic view of the patient experience now in your arsenal, you can start to implement strategies that will improve the quality of care, streamline processes, train staff and make your practice more efficient. 

8. Stay consistent

A patient feedback system isn’t a one-time initiative. You must continue to survey patients at least once each quarter to ensure you’re able to quickly identify gaps, address problems and take steps to improve the quality of care. Be sure to track your progress on getting patient feedback and the changes you’ve made and consider reporting to your patients what you’ve done to improve your practice. 

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