Finding bad online reviews from former or current patients is always disappointing. But more than a blow to your confidence, poor patient reviews can significantly impact your business.
While multiple reviews from happy, satisfied patients can help bring in new business, just one negative review can discourage a large number of potential clients from giving your practice a try.
Like it or not, websites like Yelp and RateMDs wield quite a bit of power when it comes to the acquisition rate of your practice. Fortunately, the power of your patient reviews isn’t totally out of your control.
In fact, you can use a few basic strategies to garner better patient reviews, discourage the naysayers from damaging your reputation, and build a patient-boosting online presence.
Create a Great Front of Office Experience
The truth is, most poor patient reviews aren’t generated from a low-quality experience with patient care. They’re usually caused by an interaction with a rude staff member, mix-up with scheduling or paperwork, or unnecessarily long wait times.
Your front-of-office experience has a massive impact on how patients feel when they leave your office. If they’ve been kept waiting or treated rudely, they may feel frustrated or upset, regardless of their interaction with their provider.
Here are some key elements to a front-of-office experience that will help patients feel valued:
A Friendly Staff
Just like customers in a restaurant or passengers on a plane, patients can sometimes be difficult or irrational, resulting in tense patient-staff interactions.
And, even if you hire employees with great attitudes and plenty of experience, the everyday stress and pressure of administration in a healthcare office could cause even the friendliest employee to be short with patients.
These kinds of exchanges–even brief ones–could produce cripplingly poor reviews of your practice that kill your acquisition rate.
It’s not just enough to tell your staff to be friendly. Hold a special training on patient-staff interactions to give your employees concrete guidelines and tools for remaining calm and friendly regardless of the circumstances.
This training may involve:
- De-escalation tools for helping staff to handle particularly tense situations with patients or visitors who become angry or aggressive.
- Specific phrases, conversation tools, and body language stances to communicate attentiveness and friendliness.
- How to respond to specific situations, such as an unexpectedly long wait time or scheduling mix-ups.
Ultimately, your employees will appreciate being prepared and equipped for positive, peaceful patient interactions.
A second, significant reason for patient dissatisfaction is poor administration or incompetence in terms of paperwork, scheduling, or prescriptions.
Make sure your employees are thoroughly trained on the various systems you use, including scheduling systems, phone communications, and cloud-based electronic paperwork.
Your staff should also be well-trained on HIPAA compliance, ensuring you and your patients are engaging in the safe, secure exchange of private information. This includes safeguarding the full names of visiting patients; protecting private paperwork from open visibility; and avoiding carelessly posting on social media about patients.
Creating a Comfortable Ambience
Consider the ambience of your waiting room. Are the seats comfortable? Have you provided up-to-date magazines for patients to look at while they wait? How is the lighting? Have you considered extra touches, such as scent diffusers or pictures on the walls?
You’re running a private healthcare practice–not a hotel lounge. Still, the atmosphere of your office can still significantly impact a patient’s overall impression of their experience with your practice, even on a subconscious level.
Use Electronic Forms and a Patient Portal for Access and Smooth Communication
One way to provide patients with smoother, more efficient communication is to use digital tools such as an electronic medical records system and patient portal.
Electronic forms provide efficient communication pre- and post-appointment by making it simple for patients to fill out necessary forms online, even on their smartphones. Not only do electronic forms make it safe and efficient to exchange information, they also help create a more professional, patient-centered experience.
For example, you might want to send a pre-appointment questionnaire that gives patients a chance to give you critical information and prepare you for the appointment. Patients will appreciate the fact that you are beginning the process of care well before their scheduled appointment by giving them a chance to voice their concerns and tell you about their health journey.
A Patient Portal
A patient portal provides a common access point that improves communication, prevents frustration, and shows that you are invested in up-to-date technology that improves patient experience and quality of care.
Typically, a patient portal provides a place for patients to access their notes, review their personal profile, and even message their provider.
Provide Ongoing Patient Touchpoints
Now, let’s talk about the extra touches that can generate over-the-top-thrilled patient reviews.
Remember, the majority of your patients are looking for someone to come alongside them in their journey to better physical or mental health. That being the case, building in multiple touch points to your patient’s experience communicates that you are there with them every step of the way.
As explained above, electronic forms and a messaging portal provide a means for patients to remain in contact with you both pre- and post-appointment, without having to make a phone call. Using these tools, you can also remain in contact with patients via email and text message to confirm and schedule appointments, check in on paperwork, and more.
As a provider, you can also create touchpoints to communicate with your patients personally out of office. Consider giving patients a phone call a few days after their appointment, to ask how they are feeling and if they have any additional questions for you. Continue to check in with them personally on their progress. Send them a handwritten note on their birthday. Communicate your investment in their journey on an ongoing basis, and you’ll generate a patient base that is committed to your practice and happy with their experience.
Sending your patients a survey after their appointment is a great way to give patients an opportunity to speak up without getting on Yelp to give you a bad review. A survey also lets your clients know that you value their opinion, and gives you a means to track your own personal growth in terms of patient satisfaction and loyalty.
Ask patients, How likely are you to recommend us to a friend, family member, or colleague? with a rating scale of 0–10. Then, give them an opportunity to provide open-ended feedback to explain their rating.Ultimately, you will also gain potentially actionable feedback you can use to improve your practice and patient experience.
Consider Providing Your Own Review Platform
While you won’t want to simply “delete” any negative reviews on your site, you can address and respond to any complaints without suffering a negative impact on Yelp. You can also leverage positive reviews as testimonial material for your website or even print materials.
IntakeQ for Smoother Communication and More Personal Patient Relationships
IntakeQ provides a comprehensive digital platform that you can use to customize, deliver, receive, and store electronic forms; create a patient portal for messaging and profiling; provide easy and efficient scheduling and invoicing; and more.
It’s one simple tool that will help you to streamline patient communication – increasing satisfaction and preventing nasty, business-killing reviews.
If you’d like to give IntakeQ a free,14-day trial for your private practice, click here to get started.