Patients have plenty of healthcare providers to choose from. If they’re not satisfied with their experience at your practice, there’s a possibility they won’t return.
When you ask patients the right questions — whether in person with paper surveys or via online patient satisfaction surveys — it can bring any issues to your attention in a timely manner and allow you to address them before it’s too late. Keep reading to learn why asking for feedback seriously can boost patient retention rates.
Why it is important to collect patient feedback
Ascertain patient priorities
Finding out what patients want is the only way to be certain you’re meeting their needs. For example, you might learn people are frustrated that they can’t schedule appointments online or, on the flip side, that they appreciate your ability to always fit them in on short notice.
When you know what you’re doing well and where there’s room for improvement, you’re able to create an optimal patient experience. Increasing satisfaction rates is the best way to maximize patient retention.
Listen: What patients want, online scheduling edition – the Practice Growth Podcast
Improve quality of care
You want every patient to leave your office feeling satisfied, but you can’t assess your own performance. If you don’t ask a patient how you’re doing, you’ll never know for sure.
Asking patients poignant questions allows you to experience the appointment through the other person’s eyes. Constantly learn and grow by gaining valuable insights on everything from your bedside manner to the level of care provided.
Open the lines of communication
Asking for, collecting, and sharing patient feedback with your entire staff promotes positive change. Starting the conversation about ways to improve patient satisfaction promotes open communication and creates a shared sense of accountability.
Each person on your team has a unique perspective that can — and should — be used to weigh in on their perception of the patient experience. Only good things can happen when everyone is on the same page working toward continuous improvement.
Read: How to attract and retain patients by focusing on your front office staff
Improve your online reputation
The vast majority (82 percent) of U.S. adults read online reviews before making a purchase decision, according to 2016 data from Pew Research Center. If your practice has a less-than-flattering online reputation, feel certain it’s deterring prospective patients.
Negative reviews certainly sting, but they’re more common than you might think. In fact, 62.4 percent of providers have had at least one negative review posted online about their practice, according to our 2018 Online Reputation Management Survey.
Likewise, positive patient reviews hold a lot of weight. When you send automated patient feedback surveys, it’s easy to ask people to share their experience online. Satisfied patients are typically happy to post about your practice if you simply ask them, because they truly believe in you.
Questions doctors should ask their patients
1. Was requesting an appointment convenient for you?
Making an appointment to see the doctor shouldn’t be a hassle. Patient retention rates will suffer if people are frustrated by your lack of online scheduling. If they have to call your office during certain hours, then be put on hold until a member of your front office staff is available, they might think twice about a return visit.
Check out: 5 reasons healthcare practices should offer online scheduling
2. Did the doctor’s availability meet your needs?
When a patient is sick, they want to see their doctor as soon as possible. If your always-booked schedule makes it impossible to see them in a timely manner, they’ll likely look for another practice with greater flexibility.
On a more general level, this will also help you gauge overall patient satisfaction with your office hours. You might find your lack of evening and Saturday hours makes it difficult for some patients to get to appointments.
3. Were you treated kindly by the front office staff?
A negative experience with your front office staff can cause patients to steer clear of your practice. Rude phone manners or a brusque attitude at check-in will make people feel uncomfortable. Every staff member plays a role in patient retention, so you need to be sure each person is pulling their weight.
Also see: 3 signs your front office staff is burnt out — and how to help
4. Did the doctor listen to you and answer all of your questions?
You want patients to leave your office feeling confident they’re in good hands. If you rush them or fail to answer all their questions, they might not return. Patients shouldn’t have to seek a second opinion just because you didn’t cover all the bases.
Look: How adjusting your bedside manner can boost patient retention
5. What suggestions do you have to improve your experience for next visit?
Asking a broad, open-ended question is a great way to ensure no stone is left unturned. This gives patients the chance to offer up anything on their mind, which can be hugely beneficial.
One person might recommend diversifying your waiting room magazine selection, while another could propose sending appointment confirmations and reminders. All suggestions will help you better serve your patient base, so ask and learn.
For more information on this topic, see the blog post “5 ways doctors are hurting patient satisfaction — and don’t know it.”