How to Ask Your Patients for Feedback
In today’s highly-competitive dental industry, dentists have to find innovative ways to distinguish themselves and their dental practice. A vibrant online presence, good relationships with local community members, online reviews and effective paid ads marketing campaigns can contribute to helping dentists meet the goals they set for their dental practice. However, if a dentist wants to experience sustained growth in the long run, they must be willing to gather and act on patient feedback.
Patient feedback plays a crucial role in the long term growth and success of a dental practice. It is as simple as this: you can’t get better if you don’t know what you are doing wrong. In the dental industry, your patients are the best indicators of what you are doing wrong - or right. You can’t afford to ignore your patients’ recommendations or concerns. You have to make it a standard of practice to gather feedback regularly from patients and implement changes as needed.
In this article, we will address the importance of patient feedback, the process for gathering patient feedback and five questions you can ask when you gather patient feedback.
Why is Patient Feedback Important?
- Patient Feedback help you better understand your patients
The dentist-patient relationship hinges on the quality of the dental health care provided by the dentist to the patient. For patients, quality of dental health care is a summation of several factors but ultimately, it boils down to a question of confidence in the dentist and the dental practice. If a patient doesn’t trust that they will be in good, caring and empathetic hands, they won’t patronize your dental practice - no matter how much expertise or experience you have. Patients want to know that you are considerate of their situation and understand them.
By gathering patient feedback, you assure your current and prospective patients that you care about their concerns and are willing to address them. This sends a clear statement to your patient but more importantly, it helps you to know and understand them better. The more you know and understand your patient, the better you become at attending to their needs and providing better dental health care.
- Patient Feedback make you a better dentist
Dentists aren’t leadership experts, business strategists, marketers or sales professionals. The years of education and training dentists receive doesn’t include solutions and tips on how to grow a dental practice, lead a team of dental professionals or build credibility in the dental industry. Yet, these are important conversations dentists need to have. For the sake of their patients - and the dental industry at large - dentists need to learn how to be better professionals, leaders and business owners.
Patient feedback is a good starting point for dentists who are seeking ways to improve themselves. The feedback you receive can reveal gaps in your leadership style or business strategies. It can help you change, sooner rather than later, the way you treat patients, team members or your approach to managing your dental practice. The seemingly little adjustments that you make, due to patient feedback, can set you up for a longer and more fulfilling dental career.
- Patient Feedback boost your online reputation
More patients are sharing reviews about their dental practices and more patients are reading these reviews before making an appointment with a dentist. To be specific: 7 out of 10 of your prospective patients will read online reviews about your dental practice before deciding to schedule an appointment with you. Having a good online reputation management strategy - that includes a system for getting more online reviews - is crucial to the success of your dental practice.
By gathering patient feedback, you can make it easier for patients to share feedback and online reviews about your dental practice. Also, you will have more reviews and testimonials to publish on your website. With Connect the Doc’s review generation tool, you can reach your online reputation goals and streamline your system for gathering patient feedback and distributing them on relevant online review sites. The more patient feedback you can gather and share on industry-specific online review sites, the more leads you can generate for your dental practice.
- Patient Feedback set your dental practice up for sustained growth
With a system in place for regularly improving yourself as a dentist, optimizing the quality of your dental health care and patient-experience and enhancing your online reputation, you are well on your way to experiencing success in your dental practice. This is the most important benefit of gathering patient feedback. Patient feedback encourages dentists and dental practice to continuously examine themselves and make positive changes that lead to continuous growth.
How to Gather Patient Feedback
- Determine for goals for gathering patient feedback
Before developing a system for gathering patient feedback, you should take some time to determine the goals or results you want to get out of this process. Be clear about your goals, identify areas of your professional career, dental practice management and patient-experience that you want to learn more about. Consider categorizing your patients into groups - based on their age or the number of years they have spent as your patient or other factors - and deciding what you would like to learn about each group.
When setting goals, it is always good to think of the big picture while considering the short term details. Consider the time of the year that you’re in or the current local or global economic situation and how that could influence the kind of feedback you will get. Determine when and how you will review each feedback and respond to them, if necessary. The time you spend preparing to gather patient feedback is just as important as the feedback themselves.
- Establish a system for gathering patient feedback
There are many ways dentists gather patient feedback. Some dentists assign a team member to shadow the patient - with the patient's permission - during their appointment cycle and observe areas of the patient experience that can be improved. Some dentists ask patients directly after each appointment to verbally share their feedback. However, most dentists use surveys to collect, store and aggregate patient feedback.
Depending on the patient feedback system that you decide to employ, you should consider what works best for your patients. An automated system for gathering patient feedback - such as Connect the Doc’s review generation tool - makes it easier for your patient to share their feedback right after an appointment or at a time that works best for them. With this tool, you can easily improve your response rate for gathering patient feedback.
- Implement necessary changes
The process of gathering patient feedback won’t be worthwhile if you don’t take the time to go over the feedback and implement changes as needed. Keep your initial goals in mind as you review your patient’s responses, concerns and recommendations. Discuss patient feedback with your team members and brainstorm together on how you can make changes as a team. If the feedback aligns with your goals and points toward areas of improvement that are within your control, get proactive about making changes.
Inform your patients of the changes you’re implementing and measures you are putting in place to improve their experience with your dental practice. By updating your patients about these changes, you are letting them know that you are attentive, care about their concerns and are actively making efforts to improve the quality of the dental health care you provide.
5 Questions You Can Ask Patients When Gathering Feedback
- Would you recommend our dental practice to a family member or friend?: This is a commonly asked question in patient feedback surveys. For many dentists, the answer to this question is all they need to know to access the quality of their dental health care service and patients’ confidence in their service and dental practice.
- What could we have done better?: This question allows the patient to share their thoughts, concerns or recommendations. It allows the dentist to identify general aspects of the dental practice that need improvements.
- Was it easy to make an appointment?: Your appointment scheduling process or tool could positively or negatively affect your patient experience. This is an important question to ask if you have recently introduced a new scheduling system or are experiencing challenges in getting patients to schedule their appointments.
- Were you pleased with the screening process?: If patients have to go through a screening process before their appointment - or if you are implementing teledentistry solutions in your dental practice’s operations - you should consider getting feedback from your patients about the screening process or teledentistry tools.
- Rate your confidence in this dentist/dental practice: This question helps you gauge the overall level of patient satisfaction with your dental practice. This is a key metric to monitor over a long period as it can give you insight into how your dental practice is doing at any point in time.
The goal of gathering patient feedback is to improve your patient experience, set yourself and your dental practice up for long term success and distinguish your practice from the crowd. You shouldn’t underestimate the benefit of having a solid system in place for gathering, storing and reviewing patient feedback over time. To get the most out of your patient feedback, you need Connect the Doc’s powerful and easy-to-use review generation tool that allows you to customize the way you collect feedback, increase your feedback response rate and help you distribute positive feedback and authentic reviews on relevant industry-specific review sites. Contact us today to improve the way you gather patient feedback for your dental practice.