Healthy Perspectives

Listen to Your Patients — You May Learn Something!

RXwi16_4In a patient-centric health care world, it’s important to know what patients are thinking  — about their medical care, individual physicians and staff, and the practice as a whole. Following are a number of mechanisms for eliciting feedback from patients that can be put to practical use. Here are just a few:

  • Encourage online ratings and reviews

Patients are going to use online review sites anyway, so ask them to leave their ratings and comments at places such as Healthgrades and RateMDs. If you take the initiative, you’ll likely receive constructive feedback. This can be done by providing review website addresses on a business card, patient newsletter, email message or other communication. Thank patients for trusting you with their care and request that they let others know about their experiences.

  • Facilitate feedback from home

Allow patients to provide their opinions at a convenient time and place. They may not wish to fill out a survey during an office visit, but might feel more comfortable doing it through the practice’s patient portal or on a mail-in form.

  • Conduct a short interview

Assign a physician or staff person to take five minutes at the end of a patient’s visit to ask a handful of open-ended questions. Responses from a couple of dozen patients could provide information about the pluses and minuses of the practice.

  • Have casual open-ended conversations

At some point during a patient’s visit, ask, “How was your appointment today?” It’s important to listen carefully and allow the patient to respond fully. Don’t interrupt, defend, justify or disagree. Tell the patient that you’ll think seriously about the comments and get back to him or her, even if just to say that the status quo will be maintained but you understand the concerns.

  • Know what to do with the data

Determine how you’ll use the feedback before you start collecting it. It will affect the type of data you gather: Quantitative is good for report cards and statistical analysis. qualitative provides a basis for planning specific changes.

  • Prepare to receive negative or unconstructive feedback

When you receive patient feedback that seems critical, remain empathetic and cooperative. Listen attentively and show concern. Without necessarily agreeing with the patient, indicate that you understand his or her feelings.

Be open to input

Keep an open mind to the nature and source of patient comments. And don’t reject feedback out of hand. It just may have value.

© 2016

This material is generic in nature. Before relying on the material in any important matter, users should note date of publication and carefully evaluate its accuracy, currency, completeness, and relevance for their purposes, and should obtain any appropriate professional advice relevant to their particular circumstances.