Why a post visit survey is a great marketing tool for healthcare practices

Many practices frown on the idea of a post-visit survey.  Many feel that it will inconvenience their patients or take too much time from staff.  Others are just not interested in getting true feedback from their patients.

We believe that patient surveys are a great tool both for gaining insight into how patients view your organization and for extending your relationship with the patient.  Surveys don’t have to be long and daunting, they don’t even have to be on paper.  Today, a practice can create a short email survey using a free or low priced tool like Survey Monkey. You can even set the survey up to be anonymous so the patient is comfortable giving true feedback.  Using a digital survey also removes the need for staff to tally the results.  You can log into your survey account at any time and see statistics on response trends.  You can also read the individual survey responses if you want to dig deeper into how patients feel about your business.

While a survey can take time from both the practice and the patient, it also comes with a number of benefits. We have listed some of the biggest benefits below:

  1. It will help understand how your staff and practice are performing.
  2. It shows patients they matter and you care about their experience with your practice.
  3. It helps set a framework for extending your relationship with your patient outside of the office visit.
  4. It can be another opportunity to inform patients about your email list or social media accounts. You can even offer built-in opportunities to connect. This works great because they are taking the survey on some sort of device where it is easy to link to these other services.
  5. It can provide an opportunity to request online patient reviews.  These are critical for your local search engine optimization and they are hard to get.  We find that often people will leave them as an extension of the survey.
  6. It can provide you with insight into how your patients found your office.
  7. Patients can provide critical feedback that can help your practice better compete with other practices they have interacted with.  You also have a chance to respond to negative feedback before it translates into negative online reviews!

These are just a few of the biggest benefits we have found to patient surveys.  If you still aren’t a believer, we suggest you give it a try anyway.  We challenge you to collect 25 survey responses and tell us you don’t see the value in surveying your healthcare patients post visit.

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Your office is part of your marketing

At Zipline, we are firm believers in the importance of branding for a healthcare practice. In our opinion, every aspect of your marketing and patient experience should work together to create a consistent flow and image of your practice for your patients.

We have seen many healthcare practices who have a beautiful, modern website which creates the impression that you will be visiting a high-end health spa. But when a new patient arrives, the office is in a strip mall in the bad part of town and the interior of the office looks like a dirty old retirement home.  This same disconnect can also occur in reverse.  You could spend a great deal of money creating a luxurious office with high end service, but your website or marketing material fails to convey that to potential patients.

Both of these scenarios are likely to result in a negative impact to your practice.  In the first scenario, you are likely to lose the customer because they thought they were buying a Lexus and got a rusty Schwinn. In the second scenario, the rare customer that makes it to your practice will be pleasantly surprised but the bulk of the people that visit your website won’t bother to give your practice a try, instead, opting for the provider down the street.

How do we know if we have a problem?
Be honest with yourself.  Is your office visually appealing? Does it feel clean? Does it feel safe and inviting? If the answer is no to any of those questions, you need to address the problems immediately and then move on to the next advice.  If you answered yes, then you need to examine your marketing to make sure that your website and other collateral material convey the same message. If your office has a rugged outdoor feel, then your website and marketing should mimic this experience pulling the colors and design elements from your theme. Or if your office is modern and techy, then your website should have the same modern feel. This helps patients select a healthcare experience that is going to be a good fit for themselves and/or their families.

Does it really matter?
Setting expectations is important.  A patient that enters your office with realistic expectations is much easier to please.  We recently encountered a practice who was not setting realistic expectations for her patients.  This resulted in some really awful online reviews.  One of the reviews said, “xxxxx dentistry looks good online, but my visit was worse than going to Tijuana to see a dentist.”  The review went on to describe how the office was dirty and the staff was unprofessional.  Online reviews like this can be incredibly damaging.  Each month, over 150 people were viewing the profile for which you could find this embarrassing review. This 150 people is a mixture of potential patients and existing patients both of which can be easily convinced to go elsewhere for care.

To make matters worse, this review was just one over nearly a dozen similar reviews that all indicated how horrible the office experience was at this healthcare office.  At this point, burying these reviews will be difficult.  The negative patient experience has caused long-term damage to the marketing of this healthcare office that will be very, very difficult to repair. Don’t put yourself in the same position.

How do we fix it?
For each practice, the steps are a bit different.  Start by analyzing your office experience. Ask for feedback from patients and listen to the feedback they are already giving you.  Invest in creating a consistent experience at every touchpoint between your practice and your patients.

Most importantly, make sure that what you are marketing is what you are providing.  Don’t have a spa-like website if that isn’t the type of care you provide.  Make sure that your website and marketing materials match closely with the experience patients will have at the office, and make it personalized.

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