How Patient Feedback Can Keep Your Eye Care Practice on Track
How am I doing? What am I doing?
Asking ourselves these types of questions about all sorts of things is common. But did you know that asking your patients questions like these could improve your eye care practices?
Learning how to collect patient feedback (and apply it) could help us become better eye care professionals, enhance our practices, and yes, help our patients.
How can offices ask for feedback?
Analyzing and incorporating feedback requires asking for it in the first place. But if you’re a professional with an eye care practice, you may be more experienced with the medical and administrative aspects of your job.
Gathering feedback might seem foreign at first, but there are things you can do to acquire this vital data.
It might sound counterintuitive in our increasingly digital age, but you could use signs, posters, and other printed materials to gather your patients’ thoughts.
Mail or hand out postcards or forms with prepaid postage that include polls and blank spaces for impressions. Make sure these postcards don’t identify who’s completing them. To further ensure confidentiality, if patients are completing them at your office, consider placing postcards in a suggestion box that you open once a month or so.
Place signs and posters prominently throughout your office. These signs could instruct patients to visit specific pages on your practice’s website. On these pages, they could share thoughts about how to improve your medical practice.
Again, patients can do so anonymously by completing an online form or poll. Similarly, you could ask them to give anonymous reviews of your practice on Yelp and Yahoo.
Creating and maintaining confidentiality could be just as important as the feedback itself. Honoring your patients’ anonymity means that you care about their privacy and comfort levels just as much as what they’re actually saying.
Respecting patients in this way could build trust, keep them as clients, and maybe even help people recommend you and your practice to other prospective patients.
What kinds of questions should eye practices ask (and why)?
After determining how you’re going to gather opinions and ask questions, it’s good to think about what you’re going to ask.
Try to ask open-ended questions that people can’t answer by replying with a simple yes or no. More detailed answers spur patients to think about their answers and ultimately give you more guidance and practical tips.
Some questions could include:
Which features of the practice work well for you? Which ones need changing?
Questions that ask people to identify specific features of your practice might highlight what’s important to your patients, what they like about your operations, and which changes they’d like to see.
On the other hand, if you’re putting a great deal of effort into areas that patients never mention or seem to notice, it could be a good sign to shift your focus elsewhere.
What could the practice do to make your life easier?
This question relates to queries about what the office’s strengths and weaknesses are, and it could help generate more specific patient feedback in health care settings.
With their answers, patients might describe specific needs and how your practice could address them. Isn’t this easier than trying to anticipate all their needs and puzzling over how to fulfill them?
Is there anything you’d like us to explain further?
Eye care professionals are experts in their field and might sometimes assume that others have this same knowledge. But their patients likely have other jobs and are more versed in their fields, not ophthalmology or optometry.
Closing the knowledge gap could be as simple as asking patients if they’d like you to explain things further or talk about them in a different way. To make this process more comfortable, eye care professionals could ask their patients information about their own careers, emphasizing that we all have knowledge to share and that it’s okay not to know things.
As an added bonus, these conversations illustrate how you don’t know everything but are eager to learn and change. These talks help create a warm relationship that could encourage trust and respect on both sides.
On a scale from 1 (poorly) to 5 (excellently), how well did the staff communicate with you? Is there a staff member in particular who helped or frustrated you?
Encouraging feedback about staff members could also build and sustain respect between patients and your practice.
Maybe you have a staff member who doesn’t seem to care or is even incompetent on a regular basis. Maybe you have one who routinely helps patients immensely in a myriad of ways.
By gathering feedback on these employees, you could determine the people who are representing your practice well, acknowledge them, and reward them. Conversely, you could talk with employees who are underperforming to determine why, take steps to help them, or even release them if they’re a hazard to your practice and your patients.
Are you happy with my professional performance?
Similarly, patients also need opportunities to speak freely about you and your work.
Have you heard the old expression that says that when people assume, they make an ass out of you and me? While not knowing something doesn’t make anyone an ass, choosing to remain ignorant can.
Instead of assuming that you’re providing maximum benefits for your patients, how about asking them if that’s true?
Asking those types of questions could involve using a Likert scale. A Likert table solicits responses by listing different possible attitudes and asking people to choose among them.
So, to assess how patients feel about your communication skills, you could ask them to indicate whether you’re
- Extremely willing to listen to their concerns.
- Somewhat willing to listen to their concerns.
- Neither willing nor unwilling to listen to their concerns.
- Somewhat unwilling to listen to their concerns.
- Extremely unwilling to listen to their concerns.
Then, after you ask patients this question, you could ask them why they feel the way that they do. Maybe they feel rushed and are hesitant to ask you questions during their appointments. Maybe they appreciate how you provide step-by-step descriptions of what you’re doing during their eye exams.
According to another common saying, you won’t know unless you ask. Once you ask for patient feedback, you could reinforce some of your suspicions or even learn entirely new things.
Armed with this information–and the practice management assistance you could receive if you contact us–you could build your practice and your relationships with your patients
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