Assess to Improve

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Online survey

Making it easy to evaluate patient satisfaction.

By Michael Connors, PT, DPT, PhD

We live in a digital age where satisfaction exists in many online formats, ranging from Google to Yelp reviews. A great experience is typically rewarded with a positive review, while a negative review is typically filled with words the private practice owner should scrutinize. Paper-based patient satisfaction surveys are a thing of the past. Most patients possess the technological savvy to help add to the digital footprint of the patient satisfaction reviews for your practice.

There are a multitude of assessment tools on the market to effectively assess the overall patient satisfaction of your clinic. These tools include a number of assessment factors to fully illustrate the components of your practice that can directly and indirectly contribute to higher levels of patient satisfaction. If you are currently assessing patient satisfaction, then hopefully you are using that data in a meaningful way to enhance the patient experience in your clinic. If you are not presently assessing patient satisfaction, then how can you truly say you have a pulse on the patient experience in your clinic? If you are not asking the questions, then how do you know the answers? What gets measured, gets done!

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Here is a guide to making the evaluation of patient satisfaction an easy process for both your practice and your patients:

1. Encourage patients to complete an online initial impression survey following their first visit. A patient’s first impression has the power to frame the entire patient experience. This can be powerful data to help directly influence the patient experience from the outset of their care episode. Ask a patient questions about their experience with scheduling an appointment, exchange with front office personnel, cleanliness of the facility, interaction with their therapist, and overall satisfaction following the first visit. This data will not only enhance the patient experience but also potentially impact a patient’s arrival rate and overall completion of a prescribed plan of care. Make it easy for your patients by providing an iPad or tablet in your office where the patient can fill it out after their session.

2. Track patient satisfaction at the midpoint of a patient’s plan of care, using the same questions as the first impression survey. This can be a great way to assess if either patient satisfaction or the overall patient experience has changed since their first visit and first impression. It is also useful to include an option for the patient to add their own comments to help gain further insight into the patient experience.

3. At the end of their episode of care, ask a patient to complete a survey on their overall experience in your clinic. Most importantly, ask about their overall level of satisfaction as well as their willingness to recommend you to others. The recommendation question, commonly known in marketing circles as the net promoter score, will give you solid insight into how satisfied a patient was with your care and whether or not they think enough of your practice to pay you the ultimate compliment of referring others to your practice. If the net promoter score and/or patient satisfaction are anything less than a 9 (on a 1 to 10 scale), then it provides you with an opportunity to follow up directly with that patient to either salvage the relationship or obtain further insight as to why the patient does not feel confident in recommending your practice to others in the future.

4. Lastly, encourage patients to publish online reviews on websites such as Yelp or Google. With the out-of-pocket cost for patients to access therapy services continuing to rise, and the overall enhanced focus on quality, these online reviews can serve as a nice and low-cost, or free, way for other potential patients to learn more about other patient experiences prior to making a decision on who will ultimately be their provider of choice.

Mike Connors, PT, DPT, PhD, is an Impact editorial board member and Regional Director for Greater Therapy Centers in Fort Worth, TX. He can be reached at mjconnorspt@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2017, Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association. All Rights Reserved.

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