Collecting feedback from patients gives your practice an opportunity to improve services and the patient’s overall experience. Theoretically, healthcare organizations can take the information gleaned from patient feedback and put it to use to improve processes. However, it can be much more challenging than it appears.
Looking at how to collect patient feedback, many organizations experience obstacles in the process. Some people may be less likely to offer feedback, prefer anonymity, or experience language barriers that impact their ability to offer honest opinions about their experience. And those are only the issues involved in the collection process.
The other factor that healthcare organizations have challenges with is in using the data efficiently. Collecting data isn’t enough. It’s a process to analyze the information regularly to find actionable insights. Often the information is collected and assessed by management but not used to inform staff in a way that can improve their workflow or the patient’s experience.
In this post, we’ll cover some of the best ways to get patient feedback. But we’ll also cover some ways that your organization can more efficiently analyze and use the information to make real changes for improved services.
How Do You Take Feedback from Patients?
Here are eight common and effective ways to collect patient feedback:
- Online Questionnaires. You can create an online questionnaire and send patients to the website via a link in their email or text, whatever is most convenient for the patient.
- Email Surveys After Appointments. Sending an email survey directly after an appointment is good practice because the visit is still fresh in the patient’s mind. This can help give you an idea of the patient’s perspective and give them a way to communicate the things they appreciate and find challenging.
- Handout Questionnaires. Depending on the age and setting, some patients might prefer paper surveys. That is getting rarer, but it doesn’t hurt to have these available for patients who aren’t comfortable with online portals and websites. Another consideration here is the user experience on your patient portal and online platforms. If your online applications are confusing or inconvenient to use, many patients might prefer paper to save them time and frustration.
- Feedback Forms to Your Website. You can add a feedback form to your website so patients can offer feedback whenever they think of it and want to get in touch.
- Social Media Interaction. If your organization is active on social media, it’s good practice to collect this data to integrate with the rest of your patient feedback. Also, make sure that staff responds directly to patients who reach out this way.
- Phone Survey. This doesn’t need to be a formal survey, though it can be. If staff is in contact with patients by phone, it’s good practice to ask for feedback directly during these calls. You may give staff a few short questions to ask or just set a protocol to ask an open-ended question about the experience.
- Focus Group. For larger organizations, focus groups can be a great way to get a better idea of the overall experience for patients. Because patients are sharing experiences with a large group, they often think of things that they wouldn’t otherwise remember to mention, and you’ll give a better idea of the pros and cons that resonate for patients overall.
- Integrated Apps. With integrated apps, you can use the applications that your patients prefer but collect the information all in one dashboard through your EHR software or patient portal.
Each of these eight methods is a good way to encourage feedback while making it convenient for patients. When you choose the methods you’d like to use for your organization, there are two things to consider:
- What Does the Patient Prefer? You’ll get a higher rate of participation if you make it easy and convenient for the patients. This might mean offering a few options in feedback. For instance, you might use a feedback form on your website and send follow-up emails and texts that lead patients to that form. At the same time, you might offer paper forms in the office for patients who are uncomfortable with technology but still gather information during live phone calls. In this example, you can see that you don’t have to pick one method. Choose all methods that work well for the patient and can be added to your workflow efficiently.
- How Will You Use the Information? This is a key thing to consider. It’s not just collecting the data. How are you then going to store that information and upload it to some sort of reporting option that helps you use the patient feedback productively?
Responding to Negative Feedback
How important is it to manage your online reputation? VERY. According to the latest surveys, over 80% of patients look at online reviews before choosing a doctor or healthcare organization. That percentage goes down significantly in older adults, but it’s still over 60% for people above the age of 60. And it’s trending upwards.
Your online reputation matters a great deal. The best practice is to be aware of where people are leaving reviews for your organization, claim your business on those review sites, and monitor the reviews so that you can respond promptly.
It’s always advisable to respond to negative reviews. Think of this as an extension of your patient service. You get the opportunity to hear and understand concerns from your patient’s side and make the situation better for them when possible. This gives your practice the chance to re-engage patients that might have been less than satisfied. But it can also showcase your care and concern for new patients researching your practice.
4 Ways Patient Feedback Can Help Improve Your Healthcare Practice
When used productively, patient feedback will help you improve the way your practice runs and the experience for the patients.
Here are four of the biggest benefits of encouraging and using patient feedback:
1. Increased Patient Engagement
Asking for feedback is giving the patient the opportunity to be heard. This can be especially powerful when they see changes made based on their feedback.
2. Deeper Understanding of the Patient Experience
It can be difficult to put yourself in the patient’s shoes. Feedback shows you the experience from the patient’s perspective which can help you identify the gaps or places where you can better serve them.
3. Ability to Improve Care
Looking at the feedback, you’ll start to see patterns of things that are mentioned often and find ways to improve the process for the patients going forward.
4. Helps with Reputation Management
Your feedback forms are addressed to the practice and often give you a fuller understanding of things you might be seeing in reviews.
- Collecting feedback from patients gives your practice an opportunity to improve services and the patient’s overall experience.
- We’ve included 8 ways to collect information in the blog post. You’ll get a higher rate of participation if you make it easy and convenient for the patients.
- Patient feedback will help you improve the way your practice runs and the experience for the patients.
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