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6 Reasons Patient Feedback is Important

More patients than ever before are reading online reviews before ever stepping foot into a doctor’s office. In fact, a 2013 report found nearly half of patients surveyed would go out of network to see a doctor who had positive reviews.

Reviews are a good first step but it’s necessary for healthcare providers to have a well-designed patient feedback system in place. Patient feedback helps providers improve the quality of care, identify gaps in care, increase patient engagement and ultimately drive revenue.

Here are 6 more reasons patient feedback is important.

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1. To understand what reviews really mean

Patients may leave 5-star ratings or positive reviews but digging deeper to understand the motivation behind their reviews and gain additional insight is key. In a September 2017 report by Zocdoc, we looked at the adjectives patients most commonly used when they left positive and negative reviews.

For example, nearly 50 percent of positive reviews included words like “friendly,” “thorough” and “excellent,” while negative reviews commonly used the words “rude,” and “unprofessional” to describe factors like wait time, office and support staff and insurance. The results suggest that patients provide positive reviews to providers who have good bedside manner and negative reviews to those who fail to meet their expectations when it came to logistical matters.

Having a patient feedback system in place that goes beyond online reviews can give you more information about each episode of care, understand the reasons behind a positive, negative or neutral review and help you spot trends.

2. To manage your reputation

Managing your online reputation is necessary to stand out in today’s competitive healthcare market. Not only do patients leave ratings and online reviews, but they make referrals on social media and tell others about how long they waited, how the doctor and staff treated them and whether or not they felt their provider was knowledgeable and trustworthy.

With a patient feedback system in place, you can monitor online reviews, ask for details about a specific episode of care and resolve issues which may motivate patients to write a positive, follow up review.

3. To improve care

The best way to understand the patient experience is from patients themselves. Asking for patient feedback about everything from appointment scheduling and wait time, to the doctor’s bedside manner, thoroughness, communication skills and professionalism, you can make get a 360-degree view of the quality of care your patients are receiving versus what you perceive you’re providing.

Although you’ll have some patients that are outspoken, the majority will not speak up which makes asking for patient feedback even more important.

In fact, a May 2012 study in the journal Health Affairs found that when faced with different, yet equally effective, treatment options for the same condition, people defer to their physicians to make decisions about their care, feel their physicians can be authoritarian, and fear they’ll be labeled a “difficult patient,” which prevents them from fully engaging in their care.

4. To boost patient engagement

When patients feel they’re being listened to and their feedback matters, it can help your practice improve patient engagement, which is the key to improved retention and health outcomes.

In fact, studies show the patient experience is directly tied to improved health outcomes. According to March 2016 study in the Journal of Patient Experience, higher star ratings were associated with lower in-hospital complications and re-admission rates

5. To see how you stack up

A patient feedback system can help you understand how you measure up to the competition, other practices within your health system or even your fellow doctors.

6. To reduce patient leakage

Soliciting patient feedback is one of the best ways to identify gaps in care and issues that might be affecting patient retention and your revenue.

Instead of simply asking your patients if they’re satisfied, specific questions can help you identify and address issues with office and medical staff, certain processes, communication, the patient portal, billing and overall care. Patient feedback can also help you identify trends and understand whether issues are happening more or less and which patient populations are most affected.

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