Patient Feedback: Turning Insights into Action
In the world of healthcare, patient feedback is invaluable. It’s the pulse that propels organizations toward a new era of experience-driven, patient-centric care. The process of collecting patient feedback, however, is only the beginning. The real value comes from what healthcare organizations do with that feedback to drive meaningful change. But how can healthcare providers breathe life into feedback, and use it to empower teams and create consistently awesome experiences? In this blog post, we'll explore the importance of patient feedback, the methods used to collect it, and, most importantly, how healthcare providers can turn these insights into action.
The Value of Real-Time Patient Feedback
First things first, why collect real-time patient feedback in the first place?
1. Improving Patient Experiences
You can’t improve the patient experience without hearing from the very people you’re delivering the experience to. Real-time patient feedback offers healthcare providers an understanding of their patients' experience, as they unfold. It helps identify what's working well and where improvements are needed. With this insight, providers can make changes that directly impact patient satisfaction, ultimately leading to better experiences and outcomes.
2. Ensuring Quality of Care
Patient feedback can highlight issues related to the quality of care. It can help identify clinical processes that need adjustment and even uncover potential medical errors. Addressing these concerns can lead to higher standards of care and safer practices.
3. Building Trust
Engaging patients through feedback demonstrates that healthcare providers are listening and committed to continuous improvement. This builds trust and fosters a positive provider-patient relationship.
4. Meeting Regulatory Requirements
Many healthcare organizations are subject to regulatory requirements related to patient satisfaction and feedback. Meeting these requirements is crucial for maintaining compliance and avoiding penalties.
How to Collect Patient Feedback
Many healthcare practices remain stuck in old-school methods of collecting feedback, opting for lengthy surveys or only relying on regulatory feedback. These surveys only represent a snapshot in time, and don’t help a practice stay on top of patient preferences as they evolve.
Real-Time Feedback Tool
Using an automated real-time feedback tool is the most efficient way of collecting (and acting) on patient feedback. Check old-school, lengthy surveys at the door and connect your patient facing staff to small soundbites of regular patient feedback to fuel awesome experiences at your practice, every day.
Alongside a real-time feedback tool, you can use complementary methods such as focus groups, patient interviews, patient portals, comment boxes, online reviews and social media.
The Challenge: Turning Insights into Action
As Julie Gessin, VP of Operations at Schweiger Dermatology Group so rightly says, “your feedback is only as good as your ability to act on it”. But leveraging and acting on feedback is where many healthcare organizations face challenges. Let's explore why and how these challenges can be overcome.
1. Lack of Resources
Healthcare providers have a lot on their plate. One common challenge is a lack of resources to effectively analyze and act on patient feedback. Smaller healthcare providers may struggle to allocate staff and time for feedback analysis.
Solution: Investing in technology and software that can automate feedback analysis.
2. Data Overload
Healthcare organizations often collect vast amounts of data from different sources, making it overwhelming to process and extract actionable insights.
Solution: Streamline your patient experience metric, for example, using NPS.
3. Lack of Clear Ownership
In many healthcare settings, there's often no clear ownership of patient feedback. Various departments may be responsible for different aspects of the patient experience, making it challenging to coordinate efforts for improvement.
Solution: Appoint a patient experience officer or team responsible for overseeing the feedback collection and action plans. This dedicated team can ensure that feedback is acted upon and improvements are made.
4. Resistance to Change
Resistance to change is a common barrier to acting on patient feedback. Healthcare professionals may be hesitant to modify their practices or workflows.
Solution: Foster a culture of continuous improvement and create a safe space for staff to voice concerns. Incentivize changes by emphasizing the benefits for both patients and staff.
5. Incomplete or Biased Feedback
Sometimes, feedback is incomplete or biased. Patients may only provide feedback when they've had a particularly negative or positive experience, skewing the data.
Solution: Encourage feedback at multiple touchpoints throughout the patient journey, rather than relying on post-care surveys alone. This provides a more comprehensive view of the patient experience.
Turning Insights into Action
To maximize the value of patient feedback, healthcare organizations must take actionable steps:
1. Connect Feedback to the Frontline
Connecting customer feedback directly to frontline teams is by far one of the most effective ways to turn feedback into action. Frontline teams are the heart and soul of customer interactions, and are the difference between an average interaction, and a world-class experience that customers just have to tell their friends and family about.
By establishing a direct feedback loop between customers and the frontline, service brands bridge the gap between perception and action. This practice not only empowers employees with actionable insights but also showcases a commitment to improvement and customer-centricity. It’s about putting the power in the hands of folks on the frontline and giving them autonomy over their impact. When frontline teams are privy to real-time customer feedback, they gain an acute understanding of their strengths and areas for improvement, which inspires their next best action. This informed perspective enables them to adjust, adapt, and tailor their approach to meet customers' evolving needs, ensuring that every interaction is nothing short of awesome.
2. Collect Feedback in Small Soundbites
Keep it short and sweet. Unlocking impactful actions for customer experience hinges on feedback presented in bite-sized soundbites. Instead of burdening customers and teams with infrequent, lengthy surveys that are difficult to digest let alone act on, opt for a streamlined approach like the Net Promoter Score. This method delivers feedback directly to the frontline in bite-sized portions, facilitating immediate action. No more trawling through lengthy questionnaires and surveys – managers and frontline employees gain instant access to customer sentiments, while changes and trends become clear through a simplified metric. This approach enables swift responsiveness and empowers teams to make real-time improvements in a way that feels less overwhelming, and more empowering.
3. Motivate Action Through Authentic Recognition
Action doesn’t just happen. Someone has to be motivated to drive that action forward. For service brands, that someone is your frontline associate. As mentioned above, they are the ones responsible for determining how awesome an experience is for a customer. How motivated your frontline team is boils down to how authentically they feel appreciated, recognized and seen for their work. It comes back to simple human psychology: when we feel underappreciated, we're less likely to continue going above and beyond. Why would we? But when we feel recognized, seen, valued and heard, we gain a new-found sense of motivation.
Authentic recognition goes beyond sporadic praise; it involves a consistent effort to highlight individual and collective achievements in the moment. This can take the form of personalized shoutouts, highlighting specific instances where their actions made a difference, and fostering an environment where positive feedback is actively ingrained in culture. When associates realize that their insights and efforts directly influence positive changes, they become more than just employees – they become motivated and dedicated advocates of the brand.
4. Set Goals & Milestones
There’s nothing like having a clear goal to inspire action. Your customer feedback should tell a clear story of what’s working, what’s not, and what your next goal or milestone is at both the location, branch, team and individual level. Having clear goals and milestones in place motivates teams to work towards their next best action, every day. For example, you might have a goal in place to improve your branch NPS score by 15 points by the end of the year. Rallying everyone around the same goal is not only effective, but fun! Teams are in it together and are working towards a collective vision. By identifying patterns and trends in feedback data, you can pinpoint areas that require enhancement and capitalize on strengths. This data-driven approach eliminates guesswork and ensures that the goals set are aligned with the most pertinent aspects of the customer experience.
5. Take Action? Tell Your Customers
Once you have implemented changes based on customer feedback, make sure you follow up with your customers and communicate the actions you have taken. This not only shows that you value their input but also helps to build trust, loyalty, and encourages them to keep providing feedback in the future. Remember, feedback never sleeps. Continuously seek feedback, measure the impact of the changes you've made, and make adjustments as necessary. Customer needs and preferences are constantly evolving, and staying attuned to their feedback ensures that your business remains customer-centric and reflective of customer needs.
The Continuous Feedback Loop
Effective patient feedback management is not a one-time effort but a continuous cycle. Healthcare providers must continually collect feedback, analyze it, make changes, and then repeat the process. This continuous feedback loop leads to an ongoing enhancement of patient care and experiences.