Listen to Your Patients: Their Opinions Matter
In a patient-centric health care world, it is important to know what patients are thinking — about their medical and dental care, individual physicians, dentists and staff, and the practice as a whole. Following are a few examples of mechanisms for eliciting feedback from patients that can be put to practical use.
- Encourage Online Ratings and Reviews
Patients are going to use online review sites anyway, so ask them to leave their ratings and comments on websites such as Healthgrades, RateMDs, 1-800-Dentist and NationalDentalReviews. If you take the initiative to request online reviews, you will likely receive constructive feedback. This can be done by providing review website addresses on a business card, patient newsletter, e-mail message or other communication. Thank patients for trusting you with their care and request that they let others know about their experiences.
- Facilitate Feedback from Home
Allow patients to provide their opinions at a convenient time and place. They may not wish to fill out a survey during an office visit, but might feel more comfortable doing it through the practice’s patient portal or on a mail-in form.
- Conduct a Short Interview
Assign a physician or staff person to take five minutes at the end of a patient’s visit to ask a handful of open-ended questions. Responses from a few patients could provide information about the pluses and minuses of the practice.
- Have Casual Open-Ended Conversations
At some point during a patient’s visit, ask, “How was your appointment today?” It is important to listen carefully and allow the patient to respond fully. Do not interrupt, defend, justify or disagree. Tell the patient that you will think seriously about the comments and get back to him or her, even if just to say that the status quo will be maintained, but you understand the concerns.
- Know What to Do with the Data
Determine how you will use the feedback before you start collecting it. Are you looking for ways to improve patient intake or scheduling or are you examining your billing practices? The type of data you gather will depend on your objective: Quantitative is good for report cards and statistical analysis; qualitative provides a basis for planning specific changes.
- Prepare to Receive Negative or Unconstructive Feedback
When you receive patient feedback that seems critical, remain empathetic and cooperative. Listen attentively and show concern. Without necessarily agreeing with the patient, indicate that you understand his or her feelings. This may seem obvious, but showing empathy can go a long way.
- Be Open to Input
Keep an open mind to the nature and source of patient comments and do not reject feedback out of hand. It just may have value.
For information on handling patient feedback, contact Jason Flahive at [email protected], or call him at 312.670.7444. Visit ORBA.com to learn more about our Health Care Group.