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Get insight into positive changes you and your practice can make.
We live in a review-based society. You ask a friend for restaurant recommendations, you check star ratings before you make that Amazon purchase, and you go deep on user reviews before you book a hotel or vacation rental. Healthcare often goes a step further with more and more health systems and insurers switching to value-based care to determine reimbursements.
For physicians in private practice utilizing reviews and making positive changes based on feedback is a great way to keep insurance reimbursements high, your business moving in a positive direction, and make your patients happy.
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Why feedback is important
I have written before about how listening to your staff can help keep your employees engaged and happy. The same goes for your patients. When a patient feels you are really listening, both in clinical settings and in online reviews, feedback forms, and surveys, you will start to build trust. They are coming to you with the most important thing in their lives, either their own health or the health of their loved ones. Trust is integral to building a solid physician/patient relationship and listening and acting on feedback is a great way to build that trust.
Meeting with a patient in person is the best opportunity you have to build trust. This can be done in a few simple ways. First, start with a welcoming atmosphere in your practice. From the set-up of your waiting room to your front desk staff, ensure patients feel welcome.
Once you are meeting with a patient one-on-one, it is important to take the time to let them explain their concerns. Often, when we feel we have the answer to a problem we want to just jump in and do it. Even if you have a good idea of the issue and how to treat it, it is important the patient feels listened to.
You also don’t want to appear rushed. While you may be under time crunches, don’t let the patient see that side of the business. You need to be 100 percent focused on them while you are meeting. If you are late to their appointment it helps to acknowledge the time they have been waiting, apologize, and then focus entirely on them.
A little personality also goes a long way. Utilizing appropriate humor or personal anecdotes help to build rapport and alleviate stress and anxiety.
Your online presence
You have an online presence whether you are aware of it or not. Countless sites like WebMD, Zocdoc, and Vitals provide reviews of physicians, insurance information, addresses and phone numbers, and more. Google is doing the same thing. Personalizing these listings and keeping them up to date can help you find new patients and offers a brief glimpse into who you are and what you can offer your patients.
If you haven’t done it recently, just Google your name and see what comes up. You may be surprised with how many places you live online.
It is equally important your practice has its own website and social media sites. Your patients need to be able to find and interact with your practice online. If you are not there, you are missing out on potential business.
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Online reviews are great for patients looking for a new physician. If you have built trust with your patients, they will hopefully give you positive reviews. If you need more reviews, there is nothing wrong with encouraging patients to leave them. If you have specific sites you want them to leave reviews on, tell them.
Replying to reviews could potentially be a full-time job. You don’t need to feel obligated to reply to everyone; however, it is important to reply if questions are being asked or if the review is negative. When replying, make sure to never be defensive or even worse, offensive. The goal in replying to a review is less for that reviewer and more for others who may read them. Remembering that HIPAA doesn’t allow you to share any personal information, your best bet is acknowledging their experience and if possible, positively encouraging them to reach out to your office directly to discuss.
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Supplying patients with a feedback form or sending them an online survey is a great way to receive direct feedback. You can utilize multiple choice questionnaires, ask about their experience with the front desk and the physician, or just let it be an open-ended question about their visit. Regardless of how you ask for the feedback, the most important thing you can do is use it in your future plans. Showing that you have made positive changes based on patient feedback is another way to build trust. Hearing what patients really feel also reaffirms the positive things you are doing and helps you to see ways you can make the patient experience better.
It’s important to remember that feedback and reviews are positive things, even when they say things that are hard to hear, utilize them to improve your patient interactions and make your practice better.