The Internet has become as fundamental to daily life as electricity and running water. It’s part of normal routine for more than half the people on the planet, and physicians are starting to take notice. The days of physical recruitment, postcards and published ads, are dwindling and providers are turning to digital platforms to showcases their practices, but can unlimited access be a risk for providers? With platforms like Yelp, Google, and Facebook available at any time to voice your opinion, providers and medical practices can find themselves covered in 5-star reviews and positive praise or sinking under the weight of negative comments.
“Online reviews can be intimidating to healthcare organizations, but they push providers and organizations to assess their weak spots and make the necessary changes,” said Ann Baker, Patient Satisfaction Surveys and Health Campaigns Product Specialist for Relatient. Patient surveys help providers anticipate the reviews coming their way, and better their service. Using surveys, providers can ask patients questions on everything from office ambiance to quality of care, which allows the provider to improve patient experience.
“Patient surveys are an important part of any practice. Providers need to be aware of their patients’ experience to provide the best care possible,” said Baker. Social media is just one of the ways patients can express their opinions on a doctor or practice, “it’s important for practices to monitor this activity” and process the information into actionable steps.
While the use of online reviews is out of providers’ hands, they can impact the feedback contained in those reviews. Patient surveys can help prepare providers for the feedback that may be posted online and respond accordingly. Patient satisfaction is about more than great care, patients want to feel like their opinions are heard. Proactive surveying also helps medical groups anticipate and prepare for the results of their Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS), which are published for consumer review and can dictate a portion of a practice’s reimbursement.
One of the biggest challenges to surveys is that patients are already overloaded with mass emails, surveys, and ads seeking their opinions. Surveys that are short, well-timed, and focused are more likely to be answered. Relatient suggests that practices and health systems can keep it simple with one short question, delivered via text message: How would you rate your overall experience?
A great way to build your online presence is to encourage loyal patients to leave a review online after the survey and make it easy for them to do so. This is important because 84% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust a personal recommendation. If a patient’s experience wasn’t stellar, asking the patient to provide more feedback helps uncover opportunities for improvement and gives disappointed customers a voice, offline. Automated surveys allow healthcare organizations to seek feedback at the optimal time and including a way to leave a review online improves online reputation.
“Reviews affect how potential patients view your organization, which can be unnerving for some providers,” said Baker. But if providers are diligent in their social and survey monitoring, patient reviews can have a positive effect on their practice.
To learn more about the benefits of patient surveys, click here.