Given the significance of patient satisfaction in health care today, it is increasingly important to have some sense of how each patient’s in-office experience impacts your practice. There are numerous methods for seeking patient satisfaction - from third party services to simple mailers or emails. We took some time to talk to two successful optometrists about the methods they employ to gather patient feedback and how seeking that feedback has improved and grown their practices.
What platform or method do you use for patient surveys in your office?
Dr. Sampalis: We send our patients either a text or email to rate our office and comment on their experience. We use a system to encourage them to do it on social media and google.
Dr. Stewart: We currently use a third-party patient relationship management system in our office for patient post appointment surveys. We send a survey out one day after their appointment to ask about their experience in our office.
Tell us about the process for patient surveys in your office (how are they delivered, how does the feedback get to you, who monitors and assembles the feedback, etc)
Dr. Sampalis: We send a text or email to our patients. We get a notification via email about the feedback. I personally review it because it is so important for these patients to be happy in my office.
Dr. Stewart: The surveys are delivered one day after an appointment by email. We have flagged certain questions so we get an email if there is a response (positive or negative). I see the responses for these surveys, as well as my front office team. I log on weekly to Solutionreach to read through all of the completed surveys. If a survey is returned highlighting a specific staff member for their exceptional service, I print the survey out and share with them. I also print out all of of the comments written about the office and staff in general and share. If there is an
issue raised during a survey, I meet with my office manager and have her contact the patient to help resolve the issue.
What do you do with the feedback survey information once you have it and how has it helped you improve your practice?
Dr. Sampalis: We use it to improve our customer services, pricing, office design. We take their recommendations very seriously.
Dr. Stewart: We have found that sharing the survey responses with the staff is such a positive
experience. We feel that we provide exceptional care and service, and hearing that echoed from patients just reinforces what we are doing. I also find that often the patient who doesn't say much in the office writes a a glowing comment, which is always fun to see!
Can you give an example of change or action that you undertook based on patient survey feedback?
Dr. Sampalis: Our office has changed our evening hours to accommodate the patients that might not be able to come in on a Saturday. We generally have good feedback which we are happy about.
Dr. Stewart: Some of the feedback we received was that patients wished we participated in a particular insurance plan. We decided to join this insurance panel, and patients were
very appreciative that we were now in network.
What more can you tell us about the value of actively seeking patient feedback?
Dr. Sampalis: Getting them to use yelp, social media and google is a great value to our practice. It is the new word-of-mouth referral. We encourage a rating system and feedback. Having them review online also increases our SEO on the web. This moves our office up on the search engines. It helps attract new patients to our office because patients are looking for a great experience and if others are recommending us compared to our competitor than it is a great way to be able to get more patients at your office.
Dr. Stewart: We moved into a brand new, much larger office in March 2017. With more space, we were able to expand the number of doctors practicing in the office, and with this, we were able to accommodate more new patients. We actively track where each new patient comes from and how they find us - I have one staff member who prepares a report for me monthly. We have found that one of the top places patients find us (next to word of mouth) is the internet. When I ask these patients specifically how they found us online, many report they found our website through searching, but decided to choose us based on our reviews, both on our website and Google. In Q4 of 2018, we increased our new patient exams by 205%! We also had an overall increase in new patients for 2018 of 118%. There is tremendous value in actively seeking patient feedback. You can quickly identify and address patient issues, highlight staff members who have been recognized for providing excellent service, and increase practice revenue by adding new patients, for very little cost.
Dr. Maria Sampalis graduated from New England College of Optometry in 2007. She is the owner of Sampalis Eye Care in Cranston, RI. She was 2017’s Young OD of the Year in Rhode Island. She is the founder and administrator of the Corporate Optometry community on Facebook. In addition, she developed the job website, corporateoptometrycareers.com and the practice management website, corporateoptometry.com. She is the proud mother of 2 little girls, Melina and Sophia.
Dr. Jennifer Stewart a partner at Norwalk Eye Care in Norwalk, Connecticut. She is also the co-founder and Chief Optometric Officer at Performance 20/20, a practice specializing in sports and performance vision. Performance 20/20 helps athletes improve reaction, anticipation, timing, eye/hand coordination, focusing, attention and decision making. Dr Stewart and her team have worked with youth, elite, college and professional athletes of all sports to improve their performance. In her spare time, Dr. Stewart trains for and competes in triathlons and road races.