Tracking patient satisfaction
Online surveys present a convenient option to see where you excel and analyze how to improve your customer service.
BY ELIZABETH HOLLOWAY, COE, CPSS, PHR
When you know what your patients really think about your practice, you can make informed operational decisions to improve patient care. Thankfully, in today’s digital world, practices no longer have to wonder about patient satisfaction. Online survey systems present an easy-to-administer and convenient method to document and measure your patients’ overall experiences and to track issues in the clinic.
If your practice does not currently conduct online patient satisfaction surveys, here are some tips.
Within the survey, be sure to allow patients the opportunity to provide comments on all areas of the office, offering an overview of their experience from booking the appointment to checking out. To help make your patient satisfaction survey program a success, involve your physicians at every level to help you design the survey questions. If you are in a larger group practice, you may elect a physician liaison to communicate survey feedback to the physician group.
I’ve found that the best way to ensure that patients give you feedback is for the doctor to ask. But, to maximize patient participation in the survey, the entire staff should encourage patients to take the survey. For example, a technician can encourage patients during their work-ups. She could say, “Mrs. White, I have enjoyed getting you ready to see the doctor today. When you check-out, we are going to give you information to complete an online survey. Please take a few minutes of your day to let us know how we can improve your experience in our clinic.”
Choose a service
When selecting an online survey tool, look for a product that can provide real-time access to practice and individual provider reports. These reports can give you sorted views to your practice’s results at any time and help you know whether your team reaches your customer service goals. The product should also compare your practice’s results with similar practices and patients from across the country so you can see how you stack up.
Satisfaction survey results can help your practice assess its strengths and weaknesses. After collecting patient satisfaction data, practice administrators should review the results with the entire team and develop a plan to improve patient satisfaction and staff training initiatives. For example, if 90% of patients indicate that the wait at the front desk is too long or an unpleasant experience, the practice may need to add staff, streamline processes, or provide additional customer service training.
Remember to remain objective and open to feedback. When patients provide you with their honest views regarding their experiences in your practice, all team members should be willing to make changes that will improve customer service.
By measuring and tracking patient satisfaction, we can make SMART customer service goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-oriented). Consistently make SMART goals for patient satisfaction, then monitor survey results to ensure that progress has been made. For example, your goal may be to increase overall patient satisfaction from 90% to 95% in the next 90 days. To do so, you can plan to reduce overall patient wait times to bring them within the national benchmarks for ophthalmology exams.
When your practice achieves a goal or consistently sees high patient satisfaction scores, celebrate the accomplishment by hosting a lunch or providing staff prizes. Also, if specific staff members or physicians receive compliments from patients, share this with the entire team. Being recognized by peers can help staff build morale and confidence, two traits that help increase customer service.
Commit to excellence
Patients today have an online voice, and they directly relate their customer service experiences with their overall medical care. If the patient has a poor interaction with a staff member, the patient is more likely to mistrust the physician’s care and share their grievances on review websites such as Yelp.
Patient satisfaction surveys will not stop every unhappy patient from complaining online, but having a vehicle for patients to voice their concerns can help minimize negative online posts. Meanwhile you’ll obtain direct feedback to assist your practice in demonstrating a commitment to excellence. OP
Ms. Holloway is a senior consultant with BSM Consulting in Clearwater, Fla. Her current certifications include Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and Certified Patient Service Specialist (CPSS).