Patient Feedback: Why It’s Important and How to Effectively Use It

You want your services to make a difference for your patients, and you aren’t afraid of implementing telemedicine in your practice. However, you keep wondering if there are issues that fall under your radar and keep you from growing. The only correct way to get insights on how you’re doing is to collect feedback directly from your patients. Sometimes, the information you gather can be surprising. For instance, while 63% of patients are interested in a full-scale virtual telehealth-based plan, only 14% of physicians actually have invested in such solutions.

Comparison of patients' and clinicians' perspectives concerning telehealth

Feedback gives clinicians an unbiased picture of their patients’ expectations, highlights the current issues to address, and points out areas for future growth. Let’s explore how feedback can empower your business.

How collecting feedback can improve the patient experience

Many healthcare providers focus on the patient experience because it allows them to increase patient satisfaction, improve the quality of services, and ensure the perfect market fit.

Evidence shows that patient experience feedback can shape services to better meet patient needs. We also know that better patient experience is associated with the efficient use of services. It results in the patient being better able to use the clinical advice given, and to use primary care more effectively. National Institute for Health and Care Research

What’s more important, investigating the patient experience on some occasions reflects a visible gap between patient expectations and how clinicians evaluate their service quality.

Experience satisfaction and expectations gap

Let’s check how collecting patient feedback helps with understanding the reasons for this gap and solves possible problems with healthcare services.

Understanding patient needs and expectations

A questionnaire created both for clinicians and patients is a common way to learn about a mismatch between your understanding of quality service and your patients’ expectations. You might ask questions covering the following topics:

  • how services should be provided
  • particular patients’ and clinicians’ concerns

The rule of thumb for such a questionnaire is that all questions have to be precise to avoid misinterpretations. You should also stay clear of any personal questions that involve sharing information connected with health conditions or any other personal data that can be potentially abused. Remember at all times that the purpose of your questionnaire is to provide an unbiased view of patient expectations.

Ensure that patients have consented for you to use their answers in further analytics.

Improving the quality of care

The quality of provided care is another potential point of growth for the practice. Consistently collected patient feedback empowers healthcare providers to:

  • monitor and resolve arising issues
  • understand patients’ real-life experiences
  • apply a people-centered approach to implementing new services
  • beta test changes in the service

Questions in feedback collection forms have to focus on one specific goal. Stay true to it in your questions, and make sure the forms you use are easy to complete so more respondents will participate. As a result, you’ll get coherent data you can rely on when making decisions on improving patient care.

Monitoring the level of patient satisfaction

Consistent feedback helps clinicians estimate patient satisfaction with appointments, the service, specialists, or any other area of interest. There are multiple formats you can use to gather feedback, including surveys, comment cards, and SMS. However, online ratings are most widely used because they provide an accessible way to gather feedback that can be stored and generalized without much effort.

Although this method of retrieving feedback might seem the simplest, there’s a danger of getting biased data while using it. According to a cross-sectional patient satisfaction study conducted in Switzerland, patients’ satisfaction levels determine if they will participate in a survey. Those with average satisfaction might not fill out questionnaires or give any ratings. On the contrary, patients that rate their satisfaction level as high or low are likely to leave reviews and rate services.

Reviews interface in Expertbox

One of the possible solutions is to make rating a patient’s satisfaction as easy as possible using a telepsychology platform so a patient doesn’t need to register a profile, log in, or navigate to a third-party platform.

How collecting feedback can increase your revenue

Collecting patient feedback aimed at improving retention and reducing patient leakage proves to be helpful, allowing clinicians to concentrate effort precisely on areas that potentially bring more revenue. Let’s learn more about the information you can get from your patients to empower your marketing goals.

Reaching higher retention rates

Returning patients form the core of any private practice or clinic, as it’s always easier to work with existing patients than to get new patients.

An increase of 5% in patient loyalty rates can increase profit by 25% to 95%.

A survey can help healthcare providers understand if patients that have once turned to their services are eager to use them again. To get such insights, make sure to ask if:

  • the patient plans to use your services for the long term
  • a package offering multiple sessions in a row or a subscription would be a better fit
  • the patient agrees to receive information on news and special offers

Make sure to regularly offer discounts and educate patients about the services you offer.

Additionally, you can provide regular patients with unique conditions that will turn out to be beneficial for them in the long run and will get them to choose you over your competitors time and time again. Engage with patients, personalizing your communication.

Reducing patient leakage

Patient leakage usually is directly connected with a negative experience or a lack of communication and results in monetary losses. Most patients don’t return to a healthcare provider if they’ve had a negative experience with them. On the other hand, according to Forbes, 84% of companies that pay attention to providing a better customer experience report an increase in their revenue, meaning that even the direst situation can be resolved when you put effort into it.

Even negative patient feedback can become your ally, highlighting problems so you can solve them. Develop a workflow that will help you deal with negative reviews and correct the issues patients complain about. Another thing you should do is always answer your patients’ feedback and be sincere to come to an understanding.

In this case, patients potentially interested in your services will know that the issues mentioned by former patients have been resolved and that you care about your patients’ experience.

How collecting feedback can help you build a positive reputation

Having a spotless reputation is a must for every practice and clinic, regardless of its size or age. Even one piece of negative feedback from a blogger might result not only in monetary losses but also in a stain on your company’s name. On the other hand, dozens of positive reviews on a trustworthy platform can drive prospects to eventually become your patients.

The most popular review platforms are:

Most effective feedback platforms

Even if there are no laws against asking patients to leave a review, from the ethical point of view, it’s sometimes improper to ask for feedback, such as when a patient has just recovered and is going through a difficult time. Respect your patients’ boundaries and be considerate of their feelings.

Another thing you should think about is that you shouldn’t ask patients to leave reviews on platforms that don’t provide for anonymous and secure sharing. If patients want to leave feedback and be recognized, that’s okay, but you as a specialist shouldn’t request it.

Ways to collect and work with patient feedback

When choosing a method to gather feedback, you should keep in mind that it has to match the end purpose of feedback collection. The retrieved data must be both easy to analyze and connect with the practice as well as provide insights for a specific area you want to investigate.

Traditional survey formats can be roughly divided by ease of generalization and descriptiveness.

Methods of collecting feedback

In the illustration above, you can see the most typical methods and where they fall.

The methods that tend to be more generalizable and descriptive are interviews and focus groups. They both require much input from the respondent and take a long time to prepare and complete. However, the data retrieved using these methods provides a comprehensive overview of the investigated areas.

In contrast, less descriptive and less generalizable methods like online ratings and public meetings might be great for rating the service and showing five stars in your profile, and they don’t require much effort from the respondent. However, these methods won’t give you an in-depth understanding of potential issues with your services. They prove to be less helpful in terms of providing information applicable to improving certain areas.

Depending on the purpose you’ve set for collecting feedback, choose the method that’s most suitable and implement it as part of your workflow.

Your workflow can be so much easier to maintain, from scheduling appointments to holding secure video sessions and collecting patient feedback! Check out the top tools that will help you reduce the administrative burden when working with patients.

Tips to effectively gather patient feedback

Getting your patients to leave feedback or reviews might be complicated because some people just don’t do this. According to GatherUp survey, roughly one-third of respondents said that they wouldn’t take the time to write a review.

Reviews frequency

However, you still have to do all in your power to make leaving a review as easy as it can be, as the complexity of leaving feedback is correlated with the chances of getting feedback. Reduce the number of steps it takes to leave feedback and work on the questions format to ensure it’s easy to understand them.

Additionally, to get helpful feedback, make sure to:

  • Include every touchpoint. Patients are more likely to leave feedback when they’re informed about all the options for doing so and have multiple touchpoints. Encourage patients to review your services on social media, using built-in telehealth review forms, etc.
  • Use behavior analytics. This is an additional tool that can give you insights on how patients interact with your website, telehealth platform, or social media channel. User behavior analytics can give you tips on where you should try to implement a feedback collection form.
  • Collect historical data. You can reuse and compare responses to get additional information on how improvements have affected the user experience and patient satisfaction. Ideally, you should think about using one database for all in-app, email, or social media channel surveys.
  • Hold phone interviews. You might miss important details when using the same feedback collection methods and questionnaires for a long period of time. Change the channels you use for collecting feedback to ensure you get the needed data on the patients’ success.
  • Collect patient stories. If a patient is willing to share their success story and gives you permission to share it, this gives you an opportunity to use it to enhance your personal brand and increase trust in your services.

Tips to deal with patient feedback

There are several important things you have to do after a patient has provided you with feedback. Make sure you do them to encourage patients to communicate with you and talk about your services:

  • Provide a timely response to feedback. It can be a short message of appreciation, but make sure you personalize it.
  • Deal with negative reviews. Apologize for negative experiences, be kind and understanding, and inform patients when the problem is fixed. Try to solve any issues in a friendly tone.
  • Use an omnichannel approach to showcase feedback. You can attract more patients by sharing their success stories and positive reviews. Work on obtaining patient consent to use reviews and build trust with future patients.

Summing up

Patient feedback provides you with insights on how you can improve your practice to meet your patients’ needs and consequently get higher revenue. Make sure you use this opportunity to boost your services. Also, keep in mind that to collect patient feedback you should use secure platforms that meet HIPAA standards and that data shouldn’t contain personally identifiable information. Only if the patient decides to share feedback themselves can they do so without anonymity.

FAQ
  • Patient feedback provides insights into how your services are perceived and how you can improve the current patient experience. With collected feedback, you can learn more about:

    • patient needs and expectations
    • the quality of care provided
    • patient satisfaction

    Collecting patient feedback can involve getting unbiased information on the current state of services as well as suggestions on possible improvements.

  • Learning more about the patient experience from patient feedback provides you with insights for:

    • reaching higher retention rates
    • reducing patient leakage

    Analyze the collected feedback to improve the patient experience and boost your revenue.

  • After a patient has provided you with feedback, make sure to do the following:

    • provide a timely response to the feedback
    • deal with complaints
    • use an omnichannel approach to showcase the feedback
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