10 Steps to Maximizing Patient Loyalty and Effecting Positive Change within a Physician Group Practice

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How to Effectively Use Real-time Patient Feedback to Effect Positive Change within a Physician Group Practice

Since 1995 I have had the privilege of working with physician practices to help improve the patient experience. Between 1995 and now many things have changed in healthcare, however many things have remained the same. Technology for example has dramatically changed. Telemedicine was just a dream back in 1995 and the internet was still in its infancy. Making the patient experience more patient-centered was being talked about but implementing change and making process improvements to the patient experience was a rarity within physician practices. Things moved a little slower back in 1995.

As we went about looking for ways to improve the patient experience, even way back in the ’90s, we knew then what we still know now — having a physician champion was essential if positive change was going to take place. Just as important, enlisting genuine support from leadership and buy-in from support staff had to happen if real, sustained change was to going to come about.
Identifying and staying true to important key success factors that must be in place to effect positive change is still relevant. Utilizing those key success factors is one of the things that remains the same, to be successful.

As I revisited the 10 Steps to Maximizing Patient Loyalty, I challenged myself to find even one of the 10 steps obsolete or outdated. I couldn’t do it. So, I pass along the challenge to you. Can you find one, or more, of the 10 steps listed below that are no longer needed, or unimportant? I welcome your comments in the comment section.

If your organization utilizes M3-Patient Experience®, MedicalGPS real-time patient feedback system, and has participated in MedicalGPS’ service improvement program, Endeavor for Excellence: Start Where the Patient Starts, the 10 steps as described below will be familiar. If your organization is not currently engaged with MedicalGPS, we’d love to connect with you to see how we might serve you and your team.

10 Steps to Maximizing Patient Loyalty and Effecting Positive Change

1. Enlist the support of participating physicians and other leadership

Before starting any service improvement project, enlist the support of physicians and other key decision-makers. Having a physician champion that is passionate about service improvement opportunity makes the difference.

Some practical ways to involve your team may include:

  • Review goals and objectives at the highest levels of leadership and gain their support
  • Review survey methodology at staff meetings before moving forward
  • Allow physicians, other healthcare providers, and support staff to take “test” surveys
  • Insist on data transparency to gain physician and staff buy-in
  • Share success stories from other M3-Patient Experience users
Female doctor explaining diagnosis to her patient. Brunette woman having consultation with smiling blonde girl in medical office.2. Ask patients about their care experience using an internet-based method

The days of using paper or telephone surveys are gone. “But wait”, you say, “that’s the recommended method by CMS for performing CAHPS surveys”. If you were to make that statement, of course you would be correct. The big difference is CAHPS surveys are deployed to comply with CMS/government payment programs, while internet-based patient feedback systems and on-line surveys, for instance M3-Patient Experience, are used to gather real-time patient feedback to help improve the patient experience. The timeliness of CAHPS survey results, or may I say the lack of timeliness, makes CAHPS reporting pretty much useless when it comes to making workflow and process improvements. Real-time patient feedback allows practice managers and other decision-makers to be proactive, ‘nipping the problem in the bud’ as they say, before the situation grows or worsens.

3. Gather and process patient feedback continuously

The internet has made gathering patient feedback affordable. Compared to paper or telephone surveys, an internet-based survey costs pennies on the dollar. Internet-based surveys, when deployed with the patient in mind, empower the patient to provide their perspective regarding their experience, which in turn enables practice managers and other practice leadership the ability to better manage their practice, from the patients’ perspective.

Young doctor examining female patient in hospital office. Medical healthcare and doctor staff service concept.4. ACT on patient feedback straightaway when appropriate

MedicalGPS’ clients have collected patient feedback from millions of patients just over the last few years. Using a zero-to-10-point scale, over the last two years, approximately 90% of responding patients rated their healthcare provider with a “9” or “10” rating. Some healthcare professionals believe that only dissatisfied patients complete patient experience surveys – that simply is not accurate — 90% of patients, or more, give the highest ratings possible.

5. Pass along patient compliments soon after the patient’s visit

A mentioned above, with 90%+ of patients providing the highest scores possible, valuable feedback is obtained from patients that are indeed highly satisfied and very happy with their healthcare provider and their office visit experience. That being the case, as part of MedicalGPS’ service improvement program, we teach practice managers and other practice leadership how to use favorable patient comments to create a culture of service excellence. By recognizing team members for a job well done, immediately following the positive visit experience (usually the day after the patient’s visit), support staff are motivated and feel appreciated for demonstrating outstanding customer service.

6. Coach & counsel staff (when needed) soon after the patient’s visit

Similarly, whenever patients leave unfavorable comments, coaching and counseling of support staff soon after the service failure helps improve support staff interpersonal skills, ensuring the organization’s standards of behavior are met.

Service Recovery: Acting soon after critical patient feedback allows practice leadership the opportunity to effectively perform service recovery. Unlike most other businesses, patients are seeking relationships with healthcare providers. Ignoring a service recovery opportunity is not something that will be tolerated by patients in today’s competitive healthcare environment. An unhappy patient’s post on the practice’s Google review site can be avoided by performing timely service recovery. MedicalGPS’ real-time feedback system provides the opportunity to perform timely service recovery.

7. Provide physicians with practice-unique results and benchmark comparisons

An easy-to-navigate interactive reporting system allows physicians, administrators, and other healthcare professionals the opportunity to look horizontally across the practice and across their organization, comparing their practice to peer-group aggregations. Well-designed reporting analytics will provide both internal and external benchmarks, allowing specialty-specific comparisons at the click of a button. That same interactive reporting tool provides vertical drill-down capability that allows the physician and other decision-makers the opportunity to obtain granular detail when needed. Ease of data management by the end-user (physicians and healthcare administrators) helps gain confidence in using the data to support making changes and improvements to the physician practice or organization.

8. Analyze patient feedback to identify improvement opportunities

Whether your practice uses M3-Patient Experience or another survey tool, insist on having a dashboard of information that transforms data into actionable information.

M3-Patient Experience includes a set of heads-up dashboards comprised of upgrades and modifications that have been made in collaboration with front-line healthcare professionals for more than two decades. The result? Busy physicians, as well as busy healthcare administrators, quickly find the information they need delivered right to their fingertips.

9. Collaborate with key decision-makers — create viable action-plans

Before moving too far into the solution implementation phase, enlist the help and input of the experts that surround you to create action plans that are viable and sustainable. Those experts include superstar support staff, highly rated providers, and other exceptional team members that know their job and role inside and out.

young happy couple after therapy session with psychologist10. Execute action plans – Measure, Monitor, and Modify as needed

As process improvements are made and changes are implemented, ensure adequate measurement tools are in place that allow decision-makers and your service improvement team the opportunity to objectively assess the impact of the change. Having objective, actionable data, on a continuous basis, provides the empirical evidence that you will need to either; a) know that the change was the right thing to do for the patient and then stay the course, or b), reevaluate the change and go back to the drawing board with your service improvement team assisting with alternate action plans.

If your organization would like to learn about success stories from around the MedicalGPS client family, just let us know – we’d love to share those successes with you. If your practice does not currently use M3-Patient Experience, contact us for a live demonstration of MedicalGPS® real-time patient feedback system, M3-Patient Experience. We’d love to hear from you!

On-Demand Video Demo of M3 Patient Experience

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Thank you!

Jerry L. Stone
MedicalGPS, LLC

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