GI Outlook
GI Outlook
August 14, 2018
3 min read

7 Steps to improving your patient satisfaction, online reputation

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AUSTIN, Texas — Speaking from lessons learned, one expert at GI Outlook walked through the importance of understanding online physician reputation and its reflection of patient satisfaction.

“Satisfaction is a simple equation, which is just expectation minus the patient experience. The problem here is that it’s hard to play catch up,” David H. Robbins, MD, FASGE, program director, Lenox Hill Hospital, and medical director, Manhattan Endoscopy, said during his presentation.

Patients do not choose their physician because of skill, ADR or outcomes, Robbins said. He showed that, when surveyed, patients wanted a doctor who listened carefully to their concerns, taking them seriously, willing to put in time with them and who truly cares about their health.

“They clearly want someone to treat them with dignity and respect,” he said. “They want their health care providers to speak to them, take their concerns seriously and truly care about their health.”

When a patient feels dissatisfied with their care – when experience does not meet or exceed expectations – they may take that to online review sites and if they choose to do so, physicians may find themselves playing catch up with their online reputation. To best manage one’s patient satisfaction and online reputation, Robbins gave seven steps.

1. Get a baseline

“Google yourself and engage in social listening,” Robbins said. In doing so, realize what potential patients are seeing when they begin their research into using you as a physician. Then try to see the patient perspective.

“Sit in your own waiting room. Call your own office. See how the phone tree works. Ask patients how they’re doing,” he said. By doing this, you may see the areas in which your practice can improve and better serve your patients.

2. Set alerts , assign the task.

Setting a Google alert allows physicians to embark on the next steps of the customer service journey, he explained. This is a job that is worth assigning to someone in your practice, especially for the practice as a whole.

“Read every comment. Monitor your web presence,” Robbins said.

3. Embrace the fringe

When you see the negative reviews, Robbins said, “Try to call them back and talk to them and see if they will change their mind or reviews.”

If there truly was a problem, he said addressing that problem before it becomes the patient’s focus is a good rule of thumb.

“Spending 5 minutes in recovery explaining the issue could save 50 minutes later,” he said. Addressing a delay in your waiting room can improve the overall experience of the patient, for example.

4. Identify your advocates

Realizing there were some lesser reviews online, Robbins and his practice began to reach out to patients within hours of procedures, sending a text with a link to review the practice and physician. The positive reviews began to appear shortly after asking for honest input.

“We fail in this concept of modesty. We don’t want to stoop low enough to ask patients to review us, but you might want to,” he said. “Actively pursue feedback. Make it easy for patients to give it.”

5. Make this a metric of discussion

Robbins said patient satisfaction is a metric like ADR that the practice now discusses openly at regular intervals.

“Be transparent with your physicians. Talk to them about how they’re doing,” he said.

By bringing it to the attention of each physician, it raises overall awareness and can help the practice, Robbins added.

Additionally, he said physicians should reconsider tools such as Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) and the Outpatient and Ambulatory Surgery (OAS) CAHPS, which are still voluntary.

“I would encourage you to shift your thinking when it comes to these formalized metrics and go from resentment to embracing them,” he said. “Certainly in the hospital setting, there’s about a billion dollars on the table just in patient satisfaction.”

As they are voluntary, the data can still be suppressed if it is of concern to a board or physician leadership, Robbins said.

6. Put patients best interest first, not ratings

Robbins told attendees about something a neurologist colleague calls “the mindful moment” that he takes prior to a procedure. In that moment, the physician takes the time to confirm all the normal procedural checkpoints, but with the staff and patient in the room and aware, the physician then discusses the patient as a person. He says if they’re married, if they have children, what their passions are; he reminds the staff that this is a human being, Robbins said.

“This goes a long way to create a memorable experience for patients,” he said.

7. Act upon the data

“One of the most important things about all of this customer service, appreciation, reviews and data aggregation is that you actually act on the data,” Robbins said. “This is not just a rote process. You really need to review these comments, take them all seriously, answer everyone individually and take them to your board.” – by Katrina Altersitz

Reference: Robbins DH. Essentials for a high performing GI practice. Presented at: GI Outlook; Austin, Texas; August 10-12, 2018.