Does your medical practice send out surveys following visits? Do you or one of your staff members keep an eye on your rating on online reputation management websites like Google My Business or Healthgrades.com?
While following these tasks may improve your online presence, it is not enough to understand the true review and feelings a patient may have about your practice. Many people are reluctant to respond to surveys or rate a physician on Google reviews. Other times, people are not motivated to comment online unless their sentiment is highly positive or negative, so how do you determine what the majority of your patients really say about their latest office visit?
In the past, it has been virtually impossible to dig beneath layers of post on public sites or in survey responses. But a new trend in healthcare marketing called patient sentiment analysis is changing that. This revolutionary process is making it easier for you to learn how your patients truly feel about their experiences in your office.
What is Patient Sentiment Analysis?
We can all relate to the old saying, “If only I could be a fly on the wall of that conversation.” After all, imagine what we would learn if people really let their guard down and told us how they truly feel.
Believe it or not, there is digital technology that allows us to simulate the old “fly on the wall” desire, and it is called patient sentiment analysis. This type of analysis tracks your patients’ behavior online. You can now finally see what people genuinely think and feel about their experiences in your office. This information is found through technology mines data from social media posts on popular platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and review sites.
How Can Your Practice Benefit from This Technology?
This technology allows you to look inside the hearts and minds of your patients. With this digital tool, you can understand the strengths and weaknesses of your practice. You will have critical information that will allow you to provide higher quality care, so your patients will recommend your practice to their closest family and friends.
Here are just five of the many things patient sentiment analysis can help you answer:
1. Do Your Patients Feel You Offer Excellent Medical Care?
As a healthcare provider, we know that your primary focus is providing great healthcare. But we also know from our experience that there are lots of great doctors who struggle to clearly relay medical advice and care in a way that patients can easily understand. Patients may not understand the steps they need to take to manage their diseases, or why an upcoming procedure is being performed. And despite your best efforts, some of the people you serve may wish for a friendlier bedside manner.
By mining this data from social media sites and surveys, you will be able to know how your recent appointments truly feel about the healthcare they received.
2. Does Your Healthcare Practice Provide Quality Customer Service?
Would you believe that the common complaint about healthcare practices has nothing to do with the medical care people actually receive? A study published in the Journal of Medical Practice Management surveyed 35,000 individuals about their healthcare experiences. Incredibly, 96% of the negative feedback was about customer service-related issues. Only 4% of respondents left a negative comment about the actual medical services they received.
Sending after-visit surveys out may help you uncover a customer service problem at your practice. However, patient sentiment analysis helps you dig deeper and undercover the specifics within your office’s problems. With these details, you can put new policies in place to boost the customer service like additional staff training. Together, this information allows your practice to provide better customer service.
3. Is Your Office Clean and Welcoming?
A key item that healthcare providers uncover when using this technology is that their patients are unhappy with the state of their medical offices. You may find that patients think your waiting room isn’t clean enough, that your public Wi-Fi is too slow, or that your building’s temperature settings aren’t comfortable.
These are easy issues to fix. However, you need to know a problem exists before you can fix it, as well as know the specific details of what is wrong. Getting a glimpse at patient feedback can help you uncover these easy-to-correct issues.
4. Is Scheduling an Appointment to See You Easy and Convenient?
Sometimes appointment scheduling can be difficult from a patient’s point of view. Whether by phone, online, app, or all three, how do you know whether booking an appointment is a smooth process for the patients?
Patient sentiment analysis can reveal trends about long phone call hold times or a website or app that is too difficult to use. Armed with this knowledge, you can find new solutions to make booking an appointment at your practice a hassle-free experience.
5. Are Your In-Office Wait Times Too Long?
We all know it is common for doctors to fall behind schedule. Late arrivers, chatty patients, and complicated medical situations can throw even the most punctual doctors behind on their appointments. How often does this happen, and how does it make those waiting to see you feel?
Sentiment analysis can help reveal appointment wait time trends. What is key is complaints about waiting times are often made in real-time, meaning that patient sentiment analysis is a great tool to uncover these feelings that are expressed on social media or in text messages.
Create a Comprehensive Plan to Gauge Your Practice’s Performance
Combined with after-visit surveys and the monitoring of reputation management websites, patient sentiment analysis can give you more insight than ever before. It is a modern, smart method for healthcare providers like you to gauge your practice’s actual performance. Best of all, it helps you create new office goals and initiatives to address issues of concern to make everyone feel welcome, satisfied, and well taken care of at your practice.
Ajay Prasad is a healthcare marketing and reputation management expert and founder of GMR Web Team, a healthcare digital marketing agency. He seizes opportunities that can help his clients, mostly healthcare providers to grow their practices. He firmly believes that increasing patient satisfaction, stellar online reviews, and robust internet presence are the three pillars of a thriving healthcare business.