How to Handle Patient Feedback

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Whether in person and verbally or through online reviews (which reach a larger audience), consumers have become accustomed to giving feedback on products and services. Unfortunately, they aren’t always generous. Medical clinics or private practices may also end up receiving negative feedback from dissatisfied patients. This can happen for different reasons: the patient felt the service provided was inadequate, it took too long, the bill was too expensive, etc.

Whatever the reason, the first reaction of those who receive negative feedback is often defensive or impolite—two attitudes you should avoid. After all, a bad review can be a very effective way to identify potential problems in your service, eliminate them, and improve your reputation. Follow several steps to give proper attention to your patients’ feedback.

Don’t Ignore Patient Complaints

The first step is to know how to deal with dissatisfied patients. Their negative feedback is usually an attempt to be heard about the reasons that generated their frustration with your services. There are several ways to react, including:

  • Don’t delay responding to the complaint online or over the phone
  • Do it calmly
  • Listen to what the consumer has to say without trying to argue or shift blame
  • Put yourself in the person’s shoes and try to understand their frustrations
  • Ask questions to get as much information as possible to handle the complaint better
  • Accept responsibility and apologize immediately if team members made any mistake

Showing sympathy and interest in solving problems is essential to help reduce the effects of negative feedback, especially if it was a bad review made online. Remember that how you react and respond will be seen by other patients who will judge your authenticity and honesty, something that can improve or destroy your clinic’s reputation.

Get to the Root of the Problem

It’s not enough to just deal with the dissatisfied patient adequately. A nice answer won’t do any good unless you guarantee that the situation that motivated the complaint will not be repeated. Failure to do so can generate new negative feedback from other patients.

This may be a good time to reevaluate staff and current practices in your clinic. Ensure all staff is aware of the complaint to help identify the problem and make sure it doesn’t happen again. But do it professionally, without singling out one team member.

You can also offer yearly training for your staff. This keeps everyone fresh on best practices. It could possibly alleviate any problems that would normally pop up in the clinic. This shows you are actively working to better your staff and patients will notice.

Unfortunately, sometimes the answer does include letting one of your team members go. If patients frequently complain about one individual, it may be time to rethink their employment. Ensure you handle this is a professional manner and let the rest of your team know why this is happening. You can then spend your time on hiring quality team members that will noly contribute to the success of your clinic.

Reallocate Resources

The problems mentioned by the dissatisfied patient are not always simple to solve. Sometimes financial barriers can even become the cause of larger problems. Negative feedback may require you to reallocate resources that allow for a more definitive solution.

As clinics often work on tight budgets, this can be challenging. One solution is to use NextGen EPM software to help get control of your finances. Enterprise performance management (EPM) software is a system that helps you analyze and understand data about your clinic’s financial movements, enabling you to plan and budget more easily.

Among the tools the software offers are:

  • Interpret cost and profitability data to better align financial planning
  • Generate more effective tax reporting
  • Optimize the financial close
  • Manage and simplify global account reconciliation

Once you figure out where your common pitfalls are, you can start investing in equipment or tools to make your clinic better. Offering more cutting edge technologies can draw in new patients. You can also advertise these on your social media so patients know what new services you offer.

Follow Up

As you go through the process, don’t forget to respond to the patients or their families often. Establish a deadline for further communication about the evolution of the case or possible changes so they know their complaint is being taken seriously. No one wants to sit around waiting, especially when they are dealing with a medical issue of some sort. The dissatisfied patient may even be asked to suggest solutions to improve care in the future.

At this stage, it is important to demonstrate that you and your team are ready to help. So even if you are responding to an online comment, mention the patient’s name and write a personalized response. The other person will feel valued and realize that you are genuinely interested in finding a solution to the problem. A good follow-up can motivate the dissatisfied patients to change their negative feedback or post a new testimonial online explaining how well they were treated—something that will be extremely beneficial to your business’ reputation.

Don’t forget to also follow up with good feedback. Thank a patient for their glowing review or acknowledge their positive social media comment. Not all feedback is negative and the positive should be recognized just as much as the negative. This can attract more positive comments from patients in the future.

Satisfied Customers are the Best Advertisement

It’s simply impossible to satisfy all your customers all the time. That’s why negative feedback can be as common in a medical clinic as in any business. Negative feedback can be uncomfortable at first, even frustrating when you know you’re doing everything to provide the best service. But stay calm and know how to spot the opportunity in these complaints.

Reversing negative feedback will make your business benefit from it by showing other potential clients what problems were identified and solved. In short, this shows you care about your patient’s experience and satisfaction. This could be the big difference between you and the competition.

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