Happy New Year! It’s that time again to set your New Year’s resolutions. For individuals, those resolutions often focus on ways to get healthier, both mentally and physically. For companies, resolutions may manifest into ways to increase revenue and improve customer service. For doctors, enhancing the patient experience should be at the very top of their resolution list.
It’s often hard to know how to launch a resolution into action. For example, if you want to stop smoking, is going cold turkey the best or is a nicotine patch more effective? To increase company revenue, should you raise your prices or focus on marketing?
However, when it comes to enhancing the patient experience, there is an easy way to start: prioritize the evaluation of patient reviews.
Patient Reviews Contain Invaluable Feedback
Getting feedback on anything can be a little nerve-wracking, but patient comments can be essential to helping your practice identify gaps in the experience you think you are giving your patients and the reality of what they are actually receiving. In fact, the negative comments – the criticisms – may be the best gift your practice could receive!
The popularity of online review sites and social media outlets make it easier than ever for patients to express their true feelings about your practice – your doctors, staff, office environment, patient flow, billing processes – often with a type of reckless abandonment. Putting critical words out into cyberspace is much easier than saying something negative face-to-face. And while this may seem like an all-too-easy outlet for naysayers, it is the way your practice approaches these comments that can launch you above your competitors.
Turn Negative into Positive
Online reviews may pinpoint certain individuals in your practice or they may cast a negative shadow over your entire practice. Regardless of the specifics of the review, it is important to read between the lines and uncover areas where your practice is falling short on the patient experience. Consider a review like this:
“I had a horrible experience at this ophthalmology practice. The girl at the front desk was smacking her gum (gross!) and talking on her phone while I was in the waiting room. Then the doctor took FOREVER to see me and he only talked to me for about 2 minutes. My friends have had good vision results here, but I’m going somewhere else where they will treat me better.”
When your staff receives a review like this, there can be immediate emotional responses:
- The front desk person can take the attack personally and adopt a cranky attitude for the rest of the day.
- The doctor can be annoyed because he was double-booked and had no choice but to rush the appointment.
- The entire staff can brush the review under the rug because they know they can provide great vision results for patients, regardless of this bad review.
A healthier approach to this review would be to address the underlying issues:
- Train your staff on appropriate patient-facing behavior at all touch points.
- Improve the scheduling process so doctors and staff can spend time with patients, making them feel valued.
- Adopt patient flow processes that showcase your vision results for other patients.
- Train staff or hire external resources to handle conflict resolution to try to win the patient back. Reach out to the unhappy patient as quickly as possible.
Think of Reviews as Tough Love
Consider this option: It’s possible that the patient who took the time to write a negative review might actually want to remain with your practice. Perhaps it’s their passive-aggressive way to get you to change so they can feel comfortable coming back. Patients want to feel valued. They want your practice to go above and beyond for them – even if they don’t realize it. They want to connect with your practice on more than just a patient/doctor relationship. They may be subconsciously using online reviews as a way to make this all happen.
Make the Change and Watch it Grow
If your practice starts to take reviews to heart – starts really understanding and addressing the underlying issues you uncover in reviews – your practice has no choice but to grow. The cost of your services will become less important to patients when they have a better than expected experience every single time they connect with your practice.
Resolve to Get Help
It’s not always easy to read between the lines and truly know what your patients are trying to tell you in reviews. Sometimes it helps to hire an objective third party to not only decipher the reviews but also make strides to change your internal processes. Rather than pinpointing the problems of specific employees (pointing fingers), it’s better to address the real root of the problem. In most cases, the solution should encompass the entire practice, not just one or two employees.
Advantage Healthcare Consulting, a division of Advantage Administration, offers a Management Services Organization (MSO), The Administrative Advantage MSO™, that has identified and bundled resources to help ophthalmology practices operate on a daily basis and handle special projects. One of the service offerings is an ophthalmology marketing firm that can provide online review assistance as well as staff training and methods to improve the patient flow processes. Ophthalmology practices that join The Administrative Advantage MSO™ are able to get discounted rates on marketing services as well as medical products and a full array of services to run their practice. To learn more about how The Administrative Advantage MSO™ can improve your revenue, contact Advantage Healthcare Consulting, a division of Advantage Administration, today.
For 2019, make a resolution to put online patient reviews as one of your top priorities. Stick with the plan and watch your practice grow!