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Patient Feedback Transformed These Three Practices, and It Can Transform Yours

Thursday, July 6, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: David Johnson, SocialClime
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Bill Gates once said that innovation requires the ability “to sit down and talk with customers and get their feedback and understand their needs.” Sometimes, though, getting that feedback can feel like pulling teeth—or, depending on the feedback, like having your own teeth pulled. But like Gates said, you need that feedback if you want to get better.

Over the past year, three practices—Texas Orthopedics Sports & Rehabilitation Associates in Austin, Columbia Orthopaedic Group in Missouri, and Desert Orthopaedic Center in Las Vegas—have done just that. They worked with two common goals: (1) increase social media standing in their markets (Transform Outside) and (2) improve the quality of care and service provided to their patients (Transform Inside). They then harvested social media reviews to transform their practices inside and out.

Let’s take a look at their journey: where they began, what they changed, and how they were changed in turn.

The Problem

What your patients say about you online is often the first—and, in many cases, last—impression you’ll make. When 80 percent of consumers report that their purchases are influenced by friends’ social media posts, that’s an impression you want to get right.

All three practices had “social reputations” that did not accurately represent them, but that impeded them from gaining new patients. These reputations needed to be changed. They also wanted to better connect with patient concerns so they could improve the care and service they delivered. To accomplish this, they needed the following:

  • Feedback had to be gathered from a much higher percentage of patients. Their month-end patient-satisfaction surveys—sent via email or physicians handing out cards directing patients to provide feedback—were not getting it done.
  • Feedback loops had to be shortened. By the time a patient completed a survey or left a review and the practice learned of it, the opportunity for service recovery was often gone.
  • Results had to be delivered. The raw results of patient-identified issues had to be delivered to the right people within the practice. “Constructive criticism” rarely made it to physicians and practice teams in a usable and motivating way.

The Solution

Over the past 12 months, all three practices chose to focus on social reviews to accomplish their goals of improved social media standing and increased patient care quality. Each practice decided on three simple actions that any business can imitate:

  • Contact every patient. Send patients text messages or emails to get their feedback, ratings, and reviews. Public feedback at independent social review platforms of Google, Facebook, Healthgrades, etc., is preferred, but all feedback is welcomed.

However, don’t make the mistake of delegating this work to your staff. Remember, your staff’s time is your most precious resource. The entire process of inviting patients to leave reviews should be accomplished each day/week/month with no effort by the staff. Find a third-party vendor to handle the flow of invitations and data. A good vendor will make the invitation process automatic, allowing your staff to dedicate time to patient interactions.

  • Listen and respond. Focus your roll out and training on responding to service recovery opportunities and patient inquiries. “We hear a lot from our patients now!” says Michael Pendleton, CEO of Desert Orthopaedics Center. “At first it was daunting to follow up and respond to the good and the bad. Now our team uses both good and bad feedback to strengthen our relationship with each patient willing to share. The faster we respond to feedback, the better.”
  • Use the feedback to improve quickly. Incorporate the good and bad patient feedback into practice improvement efforts that truly make a difference. Let the underperforming physicians know that every physician/partner in the practice reads what every patient says.

Physician buy-in may come slowly. Understand that most already know that they need to actively manage their practices and social reputations. However, many have been burned by services that promised results but didn’t deliver. The only way to earn their trust is through results. As physicians see the results of implementation—whether in other practices or their own—their commitment will strengthen. Follow the simple model we have defined above, get results for a few of your doctors or at one location, and expand from there.

The Results and Benefits

The social reputations of each of these practices have been dramatically affected by their efforts. Each practice experienced improved ratings, increased social review volume, and much higher search rankings on a consistent basis. Here are a few key indicators of their success:

  • Ratings rose from 3.4 stars to 4.78 stars. This average star rating rose across all the review platforms during this time.
  • Reviews increased from 1 to 12+ per physician per month. Getting 12+ reviews per month per physician means these practices average more than 200 public social reviews per month!
  • Search rankings reached the top 3. The continuous flow of positive patient reviews at trusted third party sites dramatically improved their search rank. “Our practice serves a large geographic region where patients have choices to travel for care in several directions,” explains Beau Baehman of Columbia Orthopedics. “As our social reputation has increased, we have benefited by more potential patients finding us and choosing us over their other options.”
  • Patient feedback increased 10–15x. Further, the feedback loop has shortened by hours or even days. In each practice, the operations team instantly knows of patient frustrations and can respond every day in service recovery efforts. Physicians are getting a level of feedback from patients they have never had. This full set of physician-specific feedback for all doctors is consumed daily, weekly, or monthly by the physician partners in the practice. “It is amazing how responsive the physicians become to improvement when they know a monthly report will be seen by all their partners,” says Michael Pendleton, CEO of Desert Orthopaedics Center.

Embracing the social nature of today’s patients has allowed these practices to find great value from the candid and sometimes painful feedback offered them. Finding ways to listen better and leverage patient-driven social media is just beginning.

Jennifer Kinman, CEO of Texas Orthopedics, has led her team’s efforts to use social media reviews to benefit their practice. “Our efforts to use our social reviews to improve many aspects of our practice has already paid big dividends for us, and we feel like we have just started,” she says. “Having our happy patients help us improve our social media image enables us to set ourselves apart in our competitive market.”

No matter where your practice is today in its ability to listen, learn, and leverage patient-driven social media, keep working to improve. These three practices are proof that improvement on the outside and the inside of every practice is attainable. You can do the same and achieve similar results for your practices and physicians.

About the Author

David Johnson, General Manager of SocialClime

David has a passion for blending marketing technology with patient feedback. As a successful serial entrepreneur, David founded SocialClime in 2014 to help medical practices increase their understanding of patient sentiment. SocialClime enables practices to improve their social media presence as well as patient care.

SocialClime helps improve medical practices via instant patient feedback. Our completely automated system dramatically increases a practice's understanding of patient sentiment. The increased social reviews (Google, Healthgrades, Facebook), patient feedback and direct reporting to the executives and physicians make SocialClime the easy choice for practices seeking to increase patient satisfaction and transform their social media image.

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