Article Submission Guidelines for Practice Management, EHR, Glaucoma, and Managed Care

Exclusive Date: February 19, 2014

Take Patient Surveys up a Notch

 Sponsor: Alcon® - DAILIES® AquaComfort Plus®

Optometrists, along with many other small businesses, are surveying their patients and customers more than ever before and that is a wonderful trend. Asking patients about their experience in your practice shows you care and the information you collect can help you to improve your services and your marketing. Email and the internet have made it much easier to conduct surveys and having the responses in electronic format allows you to analyze the data.

Read on for a simple tip that will help you to ensure higher levels of patient satisfaction and will improve patient reviews that you receive on social media.

Surveys in general
The electronic communication firms that specialize in eye care do a fantastic job of asking your patients to complete a brief survey and reporting the results to you. If you aren’t currently using one of these services, I highly recommend that you select one and subscribe to it. To be clear, these firms offer many marketing services in addition to surveys.

The survey process begins with an email, which is sent from your practice to each patient who was seen for an eye exam today. The email content is written by you in advance and the communication service pulls the patients names and email addresses from your office management software. The entire process is automated and does not involve your staff at all. The email message thanks the patient for selecting your office for eye care. It also says how we value your feedback, we are always looking for ways to improve, and please click here to complete a brief survey. If the patient completes the survey, the results are sent to the practice owner or manager. In some cases, the communication service may also invite the patient to post a review on Google, Yelp, Yahoo or other review sites.

The companies I’m aware of that offer patient surveys are:

  • Soultionreach
  • Websystem3
  • Demandforce
  • 4PatientCare
  • focalCenter (this service offers a survey method that is scientifically based and was developed by Ron Krefman, O.D.)
Ask for feedback at checkout
Here is a great idea to enhance your efforts to obtain patient feedback: ask them. Train all staff members in your office who work with patients at the end of the visit to smile and say the following: “Hi, Mr. Smith. How was your visit with us today? Is there anything we could do better?” It seems simple enough, but I’m quite certain there are very few optometric offices that do this.

Asking patients for verbal feedback right there, in person, provides some strong benefits:
  • If there were any shortcomings, it is best to know right now before the patient leaves the office. In many cases, an adjustment or correction can be made.
  • If the issue can’t be fixed, at least an apology can be delivered.
  • Addressing the issue at the office will usually prevent the patient from posting a negative review on a website or writing about it on Facebook.
  • Patients can become angrier about an issue when they stew over it after leaving your office and after they speak to others.
  • You may want to have some gift cards on hand ($10 Starbucks and $50 gift cards from your practice) and empower staff to give them out as needed on the spot – with an apology.
  • Thank patients for sharing a negative experience with you and assure them that your office cares very much about patient service and that the office will review this and learn from it.
  • If everything went well, the patient still appreciates that you cared enough to ask.
I want to give credit for this gem of an idea to Dr. Robin Sapossnek at the recent Prima meeting.

Best wishes for continued success,

Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Editor, Optometric Management Tip of the Week