Lottie Abbotts explains why regular patient satisfaction surveys and gathering reviews enables practices to understand their patients’ priorities and set a direction for the business that puts patients first and keeps them coming back.
Like most of us, I am an avid online purchaser and am increasingly getting used to receiving emails from retailers asking me whether I was satisfied with my recent online purchase and asking me to leave a review simply by following a link.
The retail industry woke up to the importance of garnering customer reviews years ago and many go to great lengths to collect and capitalise on positive customer reviews. Using versatile software, they provide opportunities to give feedback on-site – via tablets or paper questionnaires – from home, online, via text, phone or postal questionnaire – and employ time-saving tools to collate and interpret the data. Online review sites such as Tripadvisor and Trustpilot are now a trusted source of customer reviews, which increasing numbers of consumers consult before they make purchase decisions. And good online reviews really matter – research from Harvard Business School shows that a difference of just one star on a business’s online profile can lead to a 5-9% increase in revenue (Luca, 2011).
Gathering customer feedback in healthcare
Since 1 April 2015, all NHS dental practices in England are required to implement the Friends and Family Test (FFT). The FFT supports the fundamental principle that NHS patients should have the opportunity to give feedback on their experience, with the aim of using the information to improve those services.
But evidence shows that outside this mandatory system, providers are reluctant to do more. Research from Software of Excellence reveals that fewer than 40% of dental practices carry out patient surveys on an annual basis, which means they have little idea of how their patients feel about the treatment they have received or the practice as a whole.
Most dental practices consider revenue as their most important KPI, and they are probably right. However, making this the only measurable metric doesn’t provide a full picture of business performance. Capturing patient feedback is important for understanding your patients’ priorities. Meeting those priorities increases patient satisfaction, which should translate into repeat visits and recommendation to friends and family, thus filling the appointment book and enabling you to meet that all-important revenue target.
Where to start
Finding the time to concentrate on your business rather than just working in your business is a common problem for many owners and managers. However, generating reports that chart business performance is easy to achieve with a suitable practice management system. These reports use factual data extracted from the system giving insights into a variety of areas. In the same way patient feedback can be easily captured through your software, giving an in-depth understanding of practice performance on every level.
A versatile practice management system enables feedback to be collected in a number of different ways. Capturing feedback ‘in the moment’, either on a tablet whilst in practice or via email once exiting the practice, allows you to capture more reviews, and collate a full spread of opinion; meaning you have a much greater chance of achieving a high star rating.
If your feedback is posted online it will be seen by potential new patients who might choose your practice over a competitor on the strength of a set of positive reviews. A high star rating will also boost your rankings on the search engines, making it easier for prospective patients to find you.
Online Reputation Manager is a module within Exact V12 that automatically manages your patient review process, taking the emphasis off the front desk team. This module gathers reviews in the practice and then automatically emails those patients who have left positive reviews and asks them to post via their Google+ account. The software also manages the publication of reviews both on your own website and on Reputation.com. This is an effective strategy that helps secure your domination of the results page when a prospective patient makes a local search for practices in your area.
Measuring patient satisfaction and understanding those aspects of your practice that are most important to patients will help you improve in the right areas. In addition, using patient reviews to help promote your practice is an important factor in patient marketing. Automating the collection and distribution of reviews via an integrated system will help you disseminate this information quickly and efficiently, gaining a reputation for delivering first-class dental care.
For more information about Software of Excellence’s dental practice management software, please visit softwareofexcellence.com.