Providing patient surveys as part of your post consultation follow up process is a great way of finding out how your patients feel about your practice, the service they received and their overall experience. Sadly, not all private practice owners go about collecting this data the right way.
Patient satisfaction information can be used to identify areas of practice improvement, but too often I hear practice owners use this data to measure team performance and tie patient feedback to remuneration packages which is a downward spiral.
Yes, this can be an easy way to measure performance, but using just patient or customer satisfaction surveys can become less and less effective, rarely providing the insight you or the business desire.
Patient satisfaction surveys are designed for one thing – to measure patient satisfaction. They are not designed to measure individual performance. If you keep the focus on the patient experience, your business will be better able to use the data to adjust, revise and provide ongoing improvements that will ultimately improve the bottom line. A much more effective use of this valuable information.
I’ve seen many examples of patient satisfaction surveys and I’m sorry to say, most are worded very poorly. I can recognise a large number of them are built based on Net Promoter Score question types, or off the shelf templates – but rarely will they provide any useful insight for business owners.
Write a survey that matters. Ask questions that are meaningful to your patients. Ask about their overall experience with your business including the waiting room, booking appointments and then their consult.
Allow them to answer the questionnaire anonymously if they prefer – often this can lead to some fantastic insights that they would have otherwise been reluctant to share.
Make it relevant
“Would you recommend this service to someone you know?” – this is a popular question and a great example of something that provides almost zero back to the business. Most patients are unlikely to refer to private practice. This does not mean the experience was negative. It can mean the patient does not want to share their confidential health concerns, they are not aware of the issues of their friends, or perhaps it just never comes up in conversation. Asking if they would refer you does not indicate that they have issues with your service nor does it provide any meaningful data back to you to make ongoing improvements.
A more insightful question might be “What can we do to improve your experience?”
Pick up the phone
Not all patients or consumers want to respond to surveys. The response rate for email or written surveys is generally fairly low so if this is happening in your practice, it might be time to pick up the phone.
Select 20 patients from your database and call them. Take some time to connect with them and ask for their feedback – this is a great relationship building exercise – but a word to the wise – some patients, when called out of the blue may not be able to provide meaningful feedback off the cuff. If this is the case it might be worth providing an opportunity for them to send their feedback after the call.
Get to know your referrers
If you have patients coming to you courtesy of a referral from another practice, it might be time to get to know that practice a little better – it’s highly likely this will result in more referrals.
Schedule a face to face meeting if possible and get to know them as a fellow business provider. Ask if there is any feedback they have received that may allow you to improve your practice or patient experience. It’s also a good opportunity to see if there is anything you can do to make things easier on their end from a referral perspective.
Referrals can provide a great impact to your businesses bottom line so take the time to get to know them and work at building long-lasting relationships.
What has been your experience with patient surveys? I’d love to hear from you! You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org