To Improve Patient Experience, Pay Attention to “Feedback Anywhere”

Annie Haarmann

Most healthcare providers concede that the “experience” of healthcare is more than just the interaction between a doctor and a patient. The experience includes touchpoints ranging from online patient scheduling to SMS text reminders. But few organizations have mastered the entire journey. Patient feedback is key to understanding every friction point to be improved. The best way to understand the entire journey is to bring all feedback into a Voice of the Customer (VoC) platform.

What is VoC?

Gartner defines VoC as a technology solution combining multiple, traditionally siloed technologies such as social media monitoring, enterprise feedback management, speech analytics, text mining, and web analytics. VoC can be used to capture feedback from multiple sources and understand customer sentiment.

The concept of sourcing feedback from multiple touchpoints is not new. Industries such as retail and hospitality have used VoC for years. But healthcare is still catching up.

For many years, clinical quality and safety were the only metrics healthcare providers cared about. But in the era of consumerism, patients have a broader view of what constitutes “quality.” 

The care experience isn’t confined to the brief time spent with a clinician in an exam room. Was it difficult to find a parking spot? Was the doctor running late? Did the billing department miscode a treatment and create a headache for the patient with their insurance company? 

Healthcare consumers have learned to expect a better experience across every touchpoint. 

They also expect an increasingly digital experience, relying on search engines and mobile apps to manage their health and that of their loved ones. Healthcare providers understand that digital is the key to improving the entire experience, online and offline. Healthcare coined the term “Digital Front Door” — the connective thread for the entire healthcare consumer experience. 

Feedback Anywhere

Patient experience leaders are now beginning to think of the digital front door as a powerful means to collect information from all patient interactions. At Reputation, we refer to this as “Feedback Anywhere.”

Feedback Anywhere from Reputation provides a complete view of the patient experience. It doesn’t matter where the feedback comes from — surveys, social media comments, ratings and reviews, messaging — we collect it in one hub and analyze sentiment across dozens of categories. Each channel enriches Feedback Anywhere and contributes to a more robust understanding of VoC.

Most healthcare systems collect feedback in the form of CAHPS or HCAHPS surveys, but this tactic offers limited visibility into the entire experience. Surveys can also be slow to yield insights, so problems often languish for weeks before anyone in PX sees that there is an issue.

Patients can give you feedback in other ways — a Google Review, a Facebook comment, a chat message — just to name a few. Each source of feedback is limited. But when you collect and analyze all feedback in one platform, you start to see patterns that suggest cause-and-effect from one touchpoint to the next.

More Than a KPI

Too often, healthcare leaders rely solely on KPIs. But, most KPIs are like a thermometer. A thermometer lets you know you have a fever, but it isn’t going to diagnose your illness. A KPI will let you know there is something more to investigate here. By narrowing down your symptoms, you can uncover what’s causing the fever and treat it. But the thermometer alone isn’t enough — you must take action based on what you learn.

Before you implement a VoC solution, start by answering these questions:

Sometimes you detect isolated problems, such as complaints about parking created by a temporary inconvenience (such as construction) or an easily fixable problem (your exam rooms are too cold). Or you might encounter something more systemic and serious, such as deteriorating quality of care due to physician burnout or lack of training for new personnel –  problems that require a deeper look. 

Oftentimes, coming up with a solution requires PX leaders to look broadly across the entire patient journey to find the root of a problem. But you also need an action plan for when a change is needed. (If your CX technology platform can help you build these action plans, like Reputation can, then that’s even better!)

Here’s a real-life example of how this works from one of my healthcare clients:

Ask for Patient Feedback 

The key to understanding VoC is asking for feedback. All the time. Everywhere. 

Here’s the reality about feedback. People who have a negative experience are going to let people know whether you ask them or not. Often, this comes in the form of a negative review on Google or Facebook.

But most people aren’t going to go out of their way to provide you with positive feedback unless you ask. Requesting feedback via multiple sources can accomplish what surveys or reviews alone cannot:

  1. Collects a statistically significant volume of feedback needed to turn your VoC into a reliable source for insights
  2. Activates happy patients to share positive feedback that drives future patient acquisition

Connecting the Dots

When you bring multiple feedback channels together in the Reputation platform, you start to view each touchpoint not as a single interaction but as part of your brand – the total experience you provide. That’s the difference between having a bunch of disconnected inputs and actually managing your brand experience systematically. Collecting data does not matter if you fail to gain insights as a result.

Just imagine what success looks like. Armed with more complete data, patient experience teams are empowered to make improvements. HR can identify a morale problem that can be remedied with better employee communications. The revenue cycle leaders can identify and resolve issues causing billing complaints. The patient experience is all about getting that deep insight into the many layers that comprise a patient experience – beyond the interaction they have with a physician.

For help with your strategies to bring consumerism to the patient experience, contact our healthcare team today. 

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