Patient Experience

What Patient Surveys Taught My Practice & How It Guided Our Rebranding

By Brian O’Donnell, OD

Oct. 31, 2018

In 2014, my practice underwent a complete re-branding with a new name and location. Before we undertook that rebranding, which you can read about HERE, we got input from over 100 of our patients in a series of surveys to determine the needed changes, and we continue to survey our patients after each visit to continue improving. Here’s what we learned, and are continuing to learn.

The results of the improvements we made to our practice, as a result of patient feedback, was 7-10 percent growth in key practice metrics like per-patient revenues and total annual practice revenues. August 2018 yielded the highest numbers ever in our key practice indicators across the board!

The refurbished front desk in Dr. O’Donnell’s office. He says the office environment was honed to reflect feedback he got from the patients he surveyed.

Learn How to Make Competition Irrelevant
Our surveying was based on finding out what would make someone not just extremely satisfied they chose us for their eye health care, but be so happy that they would not even think of choosing another eye health-care facility.

Survey questions asked about areas of the patient experience such as parking, office flow and aesthetic appearances (office colors, logo, design), among other aspects of the patient experience. I wanted to really understand what the public wanted, not what I thought they wanted.

What It Takes to Make Patients “Extremely Happy”
To be extremely happy, patients told us they wanted speed of service combined with quality care. And our office flow is set exactly as those we surveyed indicated they wanted it, including a designated area for eye health medical delivery (responding to the desire for quality of care with an emphasis on examinations, testing like visual fields and OCTs) and pre-testing. The other portions of the office are for optical only and patient check out. The design works well in that patient flow is not stagnant, limits delays and keeps doctors and patients moving.

Emphasis on Moving, Rather than Waiting Room
With so many of our patients indicating the importance that their visit be both high-quality, as well as efficient, we don’t have a “waiting room” or reception area. Instead we have a small number of chairs in our optical. We have no TV or magazines to entertain patients while they wait because we have committed ourselves to avoiding wait times altogether.

What Puts You Over the Goal Line of Outstanding Service
Simply having an aesthetically pleasing office does not put you over the goal line for outstanding service. In working to attain greatness in service we train and practice patient care and flow. For example, a survey response from one patient came back indicating that patients were not feeling educated enough during their visit.

Whenever a survey comes back sub-optimal, I personally handle it by phone call to the patient. It turns out that it was not the eye health portion of the visit, but in the eyewear recommendations area that we had fallen short. I realized that, although I do discuss in the exam room a lot of vision/optical-related data regarding the patient, I needed to reinforce it with the optical staff.

As a result of this discovery, we developed a specific way that a patient is “handed off” to the optical staff. The specific optical recommendations are discussed with the optician in front of the patient as I introduce, or reintroduce, the patient to the optician. Not only have optical sales risen in per-patient dollars, but so have second-pair sales, such as sales of sunwear. More importantly, when it comes to products like sunwear and lenses that guard against harmful blue light, our patients’ eye health also has benefited.

Focus on Changes that Improve Care & Profitability
Regularly surveying patients keeps your priorities on track in the evolution of your practice.

Our priority in making changes is to do it in response to patient feedback, and the ability to grow our care and profitability. That means we only increase office space commensurate with our ability to generate additional revenue. For instance, we could use additional administrative space, but we would only expand our office space if we could also add another exam room.

 

Brian O’Donnell, OD, owns New Era Eye Care in Shavertown, Penn. To contact: bod@neweraeye.com.

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