Article Date: 1/1/2013

Meeting Patient Expectations
visioncare

Meeting Patient Expectations

Avoid losing patients by gathering their opinions and implementing positive changes.

Valerie Manso, B.A., A.B.O.C., F.N.A.O., SANTA ROSA, CALIF.

Dissatisfied patients take their business elsewhere and tell others to stay away from your practice. In today’s tough economy you can’t afford to lose even one patient, nor do you want bad word of mouth and poor patient reviews on websites such as Yelp, Google+ and ZocDoc.

Therefore, the question you must ask and answer is, “How do I meet and ultimately exceed my patients’ expectations?” Armed with the answer to this question, you have the base on which to build worldclass patient service that translates to business growth, regardless of the economy and competitive challenges.

The process of understanding, meeting and exceeding expectations is a process that may be explained in these five steps:

1. Survey your patients.

You need to better understand your patients’ met and unmet expectations. In the past we have done this by constructing a paper survey and either handing it to patients as they left or mailing the survey to their homes. In this age of digital communication, I highly recommend the use of an online survey tool. Here are some of the benefits of using an online survey:

They eliminate the cost of data entry. Responses do not have to be transferred from paper, as they go straight into a database.

They eliminate the cost of editing. The computer catches many errors, such as missed questions.

They increase accuracy. Users often are more at ease because typically they can access online surveys from the comfort of their own homes or even their cell phones. This convenience can allow for more accurate and honest responses.

They provide higher response rates. Because of the increased anonymity and ease of online surveys, you will be more likely to obtain feedback than through traditional methods, such as pencil-paper surveys, phone surveys or exit interviews as your patients leave the practice.

They provide quicker response time. The convenience of taking the survey from wherever the patient wants translates to faster responses.

They allow for website integration. Most survey tools will let you embed surveys created on their site into your existing website. This allows your patients to experience a smooth transition to the survey. They won’t have to leave your site at all.

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Today there are several digital survey sites that are inexpensive and easy to use. Surveymonkey, Zoomerang, Surveygizmo and Google Forms are four providers of online surveys that also offer no-cost versions. Take each tool for a test run to determine which you may be comfortable with and works best for you.

2. Analyze the feedback.

Pay particular attention to the factors with low scores/grades (areas for improvement). (See “Example Survey,” below.) The feedback you receive focuses on two components common to every business:

People (you and your staff). People questions speak to the true interpretation of one-to-one patient care.

Systems and processes. Systems analysis helps you identify bottlenecks in your physical space, policies that cause adverse patient reactions and how staff should be deployed.

3. Act on your analysis.

Involve every member of your staff in devising and implementing changes. Your staff can be your best resource to solving system issues. Present the results of the survey and approach each problem with the view of finding a solution, not placing blame. The goal is to have your practice run in a manner that meets and ultimately exceeds your patients’ expectations.

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4. Conduct another patient satisfaction survey.

I recommend that you wait 90 days after any changes have been implemented. This will allow you to ensure the changes have the desired result. It should also give you and your staff sufficient time to make these necessary changes and adjust as needed.

5. Repeat steps 2 – 4.

Meeting and exceeding patient expectations is not a static, one-time event. You must look for constant improvement and continue to survey your patients.

Once you’ve integrated your initial changes, I recommend you conduct patient satisfaction surveys at least twice a year. And ensure you monitor online review sites to keep your reputation and patient satisfaction intact.

The results are in.

Now you are armed with a process to ensure you meet and ultimately exceed your patients’ expectations. Once you are able to do so, this will translate into patient loyalty — a trait that earns you business growth and continued success. OM

images Valerie Manso is the president of Manso Management Resources, Inc., a training and development company specializing in the ophthalmic industry. E-mail her at valmanso@aol.com, or send comments to optometricmanagement@gmail.com


Optometric Management, Volume: 48 , Issue: January 2013, page(s): 49 50