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When the office is busy, e-mailing or texting patients to leave feedback is effective. Avoid the pitfalls of unethical feedback solicitation and provide patients allowed incentives to leave their thoughts.
It’s more effective to ask a patient to leave feedback directly after their appointment. You won’t have to worry about remembering how to get patient reviews afterwards. But be honest with yourself. If you or your staff are not reliably asking for patient reviews in person, you should try something else. Plus, you can always supplement your in-person feedback requests with an e-mail reminder just in case you missed a few.
You want it to be casual and short. If the email is longer than 2-3 sentences, your survey participation will drop. Be careful not to acknowledge any dates where you provided care. Avoid phrases like “we have enjoyed caring for you” or “we value you as a patient”. These phrases acknowledge a patient-physician relationship and increase your risk of a HIPAA violation. It is best to say thanks, ask for feedback and then provide a link to the feedback form:
Thanks for stopping by! We have valued our relationship and I hope that you have found us to be accommodating and helpful to you. Would you mind taking just 45 seconds to leave some feedback about our practice here [insert link]. Thank you!
Ensure that you have informed consent from patients on file about the risks of electronic communication. In the signature of your e-mail, also include a disclaimer that explains the risks inherent in e-mail.
Sample e-mail signature disclaimer:
Please know that communications via email over the internet are not secure. Although it is unlikely, there is a possibility that information you include in an email can be intercepted or read by other parties besides the person to whom it is addressed. Please do not include personal identifying information such as your birth date, address or personal medical information in any emails you send to us. No one can diagnose your condition from email or other written communications and such communications cannot replace the relationship you have with a physician or another healthcare practitioner.
If you will be using a patient’s e-mail address, make sure your Notice of Privacy Practices covers it. We would recommend having all patients sign this updated document before their appointment. Alternatively, you can create a smaller Informed Consent form for this provision exclusively.
Finally, ensure a Business Associates Agreement (BAA) is on file with any vendors you use.
E-mails asking for patient feedback can be sent automatically after the patient’s appointment with a vendor’s help. Alternatively, your office can e-mail a feedback request at the end of the day to everyone on the schedule. If you are opting to go the manual route, just enter all patient e-mail addresses into the BCC line. Many practice management systems also include a built-in messaging feature.
Patients can be incentivized to leave honest feedback in several ways. Offering to donate a fixed amount of money to a charity in exchange for a patient review is a great way to increase compliance and help a good cause.
In lieu of a donation to a charity, you can offer other incentives for patients to leave honest feedback. Depending on your specialty, you can enter people into a raffle entry, provide a discount for their owed out-of-pocket, or provide a vending token or coupon. Check with your medical association to ensure that you abide by their ethical code of conduct.
If you decide to incentivize patients, be sure that the request is made in an unbiased and ethical manner. Ask only for honest feedback, not a good review, and ensure that every patient that leaves feedback in this manner receives the same treatment. Finally, thank every patient for leaving a review.