It’s no secret that patient feedback is an important component of online reputation management for healthcare providers and their practices. And yet, about 71 percent of providers receive reviews from 5 percent or fewer of their patients, according to the PatientPop 2018 survey of online reputation management for healthcare providers.
To attract new patients — and keep existing patients coming back — healthcare providers must prioritize collecting patient feedback. Read on for information about the types of feedback providers can collect as well as tips on how exactly to ask patients for their feedback.
Types of patient feedback: testimonials, reviews, and private feedback
Patient feedback is the cornerstone of a well-run, high-performing practice. Understanding how your patients perceive you, your staff, and your brand can give you insights into what you’re doing right, and what needs changing or improving.
Typically, there are three types of patient feedback, and each is critically important:
Testimonials are positive feedback gathered by you, often with the intent of sharing it with prospective patients. Testimonials can be included in case studies or displayed as short quotes from satisfied patients.
When you collect feedback for your use, it’s considered a first-party review, and you can do what you want with it — including posting on your website and sharing through your social media channels. Posting to third-party publishers on behalf of a patient, however, is likely a violation of the publisher’s policy and should be avoided.
Reviews usually refer to feedback about your practice that’s been submitted to, and collected by, third-party review publishers such as Google, Yelp, or Vitals. Unfortunately, you do not have control over what’s published, and patient reviews can range from glowing to negative. In some cases, reviews could even be fraudulent. Ultimately, those who post are often protected by publisher policy, regardless of the verity of the review.
You might like: Can healthcare providers sue over negative reviews?
3. Private feedback
Private feedback is a first-party type of feedback that is shared only with you. This ordinarily reveals valuable information about your practice and can help you improve your customer service efforts.
Considering the sensitivity of negative feedback, and the urgency with which it should be addressed, reputation management services can prompt patients to send negative feedback directly to you, privately.
Best practices for collecting patient feedback
The only way to build an online reputation is to receive feedback and reviews from patients. And the best way to get that feedback is to ask for it. Asking for feedback can be part of your normal, daily routine and will increase your interaction with patients.
First, collect your patients’ email addresses and mobile phone numbers. Then, create a strategy to follow up with them, collect their feedback, and use their comments to help market your practice online.
How to ask for patient feedback
Keep your request clear and brief
Don’t beat around the bush. Clearly tell the patient why you’re contacting them up front, so they aren’t concerned there is an issue with their health or payment.
“We’d like to know how we’re doing, and how well we’re meeting your needs. As a long-time patient of mine, would you be willing to spend a couple of minutes leaving a review on one of these websites?”
Explain why you’re asking
Even if they aren’t business owners themselves, most patients can assume that online reputation management is an important part of running a business. That’s because 97 percent of people look online for local businesses, according to BrightLocal. Briefly remind them of the correlation between patient feedback and a practice growth.
“Receiving patient feedback and online reviews is an important part of our practice and extremely helpful as we grow and improve.”
Don’t leave patients who are willing to give you feedback guessing on what to do next. Instead, include direct links to a website or two on which your patients are most likely to participate, in addition to your own site and your Google My Business profile.
As mentioned above, there are reputation management services that help you ask patients to provide feedback and submit reviews. These make it much easier to manage a complicated, often manual, process. Ultimately, though, the steps are the same: ask patients for feedback, provide them an easy way to submit their response, and keep delivering fantastic care and service.
For more on this topic, check out the blog post, “Manage online reputation with a patient feedback system that works.”