Doctor Patient Relations

Measure Patient Satisfaction, Learn How to Grow Patient Loyalty

By Ally Stoeger, OD

Gauging patient satisfaction by the right means will provide you with a roadmap to grow long-term patient loyalty.

Use Low-Cost Patient Evaluations
There are four reliable methods for evaluating patient satisfaction thatare either free or available at low cost.

1. Arrange for quarterly, one-on-one meetings with each employee. The specific goal of these meetings is to hear staff impressions of what makes patients happy and what doesn’t. It’s amazing how many employees will never bring this vital information to the practice owner’s attention, unless asked to do so. Also, patients often tell things to staff that they would not mention to “the busy doctor.” Your staff, if asked, can give you valuable feedback about patient experiences in your office.

2. E-mail surveys to your patients following their office visit.The shorter the survey, the better.I suggest no more than five questions. In fact, Go Daddy, one of the largest online companies in the U.S., poses just two questions when surveying their clients. The last question in a survey should be, “Would you recommend our office to others?” Leave space for “Comments.” When you send out an e-mail survey you will probably only get 10 percent to 20 percent response.Of these responders, 80 percent to 90 percentshould be inthe “Very Good/Excellent” range of response.Rantsandcomplaints should be rare. Anything other than rare complaintssuggests a serious review of quality control and other officesystems is necessary.

Possible survey topics:

* Ease of making an appointment

* Staff friendliness

* Doctor’s effectiveness in communication and treatment

* Optical selection

* Billing and administration

Use Social Networks–Online and Off–to Improve Your Service Quality

3. Google your practice and look for consumer reviews of each of the doctors in your practice.If ratings are negative, do not succumb to the temptation of posting “fake” reviews. Fix your practice with strategic practice management improvements and fix your online reputation with strategic use of social media and web marketing. If you believe that a negative rating is an aberration, consider asking other patients to post their honest opinions about your office on web ratings sites such as Yelp. Another tactic to “reduce the noise” of negative reviews is to accentuate the positive by updating your web site, writing a blog, developing podcasts or adding video to your practice web site. There are experts who can help in practice management and improving web/social media presence.

4. Get feedback from patients who have careers in management or who are health professionals.Ask some of these patients if they wouldn’t mind taking a few moments to give you feedback on their experience in your office. Maybe the nurse noticed equipment that looks unclean; maybe an attorney noticed the crack in your sidewalk (my husband’s stepmother broke her knee in 20 places on a crack in front of her dentist’s office). Take advantage of the talent of your patients to improve your practice.Patients love giving doctors advice!

We always assume patients are looking for “deals” because those types of patients are annoyingly memorable. But most of your patients come to you because you satisfy their needs. If you are able to convert satisfaction to happiness, you will have the best possible patients—loyal patients who refer their friends.
Read my blog: Why Are You Unhappily Surprising Your Patients at Check-Out?

Ally Stoeger, OD, is founder of www.RealPracticeToday.com and president of Consulting With Vision LLC, an optometry practice consulting firm. Her background includes being a founding and managing partner of a multi-doctor practice in northern Virginia. Dr. Stoeger’s area of special interest is enhancing practice revenue and web/social media marketing. Contact: ally@realpracticetoday.com.

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