Honest feedback can improve the patient experience

Patients are looking for a doctor who's competent, caring and attentive, writes Greg A. Hood, M.D., an internist in Lexington, Kentucky, in Medscape. His challenge to doctors: Serve your patients well, or another doctor will.

"Whether the patients are new to you or are 'the family you choose,' there is always room to improve the practice, the relationships and the experiences for both you and your patients," writes Hood. "Though there seem to be exceptions, it's generally true that families--including your medical 'family'--grow and do best when there's communication and understanding. Surveying patients and considering new ideas of how to serve them better will typically make them happier--and you as well."

One idea is to work with a "mystery shopper," whose role is to deliver an unbiased, objective assessment of the patient experience at your practice, he writes. Be aware that this "patient" may introduce a little stress as part of the evaluation. For example, he or she may ask to reschedule an appointment a few times. Your staff will excel if they're able to provide an excellent patient experience, regardless of stressors.

You must be willing to hear the truth from the mystery shopper--and the same goes with the responses you receive from online or mailed surveys, according to the article. Brevity is king with printed surveys that you want patients to mail to your office--and pre-paid postage is a must. No printed survey should be longer than the front and back of a piece of paper.

Don't ask too many demographic questions in surveys, he advises. That's because a patient may feel you're able to identify them--and then may not give you the most honest assessment of your practice.

After the results are in, fix the major problem areas first, according to the article. Consider inviting your team out for lunch for a brainstorming session on ways to improve, recommends Hood.

To learn more:
- read the article