Best Practices: Responding to Surveys

Responding to Patient Satisfaction Surveys extends the great services you provide in your exam room. You can also learn from and build goodwill with your patients. You should, however, approach responding to surveys with care. Internet messaging is a blunt tool and sometimes good intentions come across poorly.

Your reputation is your responsibility. Past patients are completing surveys, and potential patients are paying attention. We suggest you or your authorized representative schedule time each week to log in to your provider profile and respond to surveys.

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In Your Office

  • Patients care more about attentiveness within the exam room – even above compassion or competence. Investing in time to listen can result in positive online feedback. You can also employ staff members who are positive and understanding with patients.
  • Share both positive and negative surveys with your staff:
    • Recognize your staff by calling out surveys where they were mentioned positively.
    • With care, use negative surveys as a tool to reflect and improve.
  • Encourage satisfied patients to post positive surveys, but don’t be pushy about it. Positive surveys help offset negative surveys. Learn about the Patient Engagement Resources we have available.

General Suggestions for Responding

Whether the survey is positive or negative, follow these suggestions as you respond to patient surveys. 

Respect HIPPA Regulations

Your responses are within a public forum so consider HIPPA regulations as you respond. Be sure to:

  • Respond in generalizations.
  • Never use patient names.
  • Take the conversation offline when needed.

Respond to All Surveys

Show that you care about each and every patient. We suggest responding to all surveys, both positive and negative.

Be Appreciative

Always thank your patient for providing feedback. For a positive review, deliver a human touch and let them know you care and appreciate they trust you with their healthcare.

Listen

Make a specific reference to the review indicating you’ve read the comment. Most of the time, patients just want to be heard and acknowledged.

Responding to a Negative Survey

By contacting your reviewer and establishing a genuine human relationship, you have a chance to help the situation and maybe even change this patient's perspective for the better. We've heard a lot of success stories from providers who were polite to their reviewers and were accordingly given a second chance.

Use the following suggestions when you respond to a negative review.

Understand Your Emotions

  • Do not respond immediately (although still be timely). When you take some time, it helps you take the emotion out of your response.
  • Do not be defensive. You can't control the thoughts and opinions of everyone. Sometimes, a negative review can improve your service level or weed out the type of patient you don't want to see. If the patient is being unreasonable, potential patients will realize it and discount their criticism.

Be Appreciative

Thank your patient for providing feedback.

Listen

Make a specific reference to the review, indicating you’ve read the comment. Most of the time, patients just want to be heard and acknowledged. 

Apologize

It is important to apologize even when you think you’ve done everything right. “I hope that we may be able to win your favor again, as your experience is not at all indicative of our patient care standards."

Highlight Your Strengths

When appropriate, a negative survey can be an opportunity to add your philosophy of care and frame your positive story. While you do that, you still need to be mindful that you address the reviewer so he or she feels heard and acknowledged.

Operate Better

In your response, indicate that you take patient feedback very seriously, and when appropriate, will personally address the reviewer's experience with the team. Follow with the fact that the patient's feedback is the best way for you and your staff to improve and grow. Consider the sentiments of your patients and evaluate if, and how, you can improve your level of patient care. This can lead to increased patient satisfaction and, ultimately, better reviews and higher demand for your services.

Be Timely

A late response can really impact the effectiveness. Replying within two weeks is a perfectly acceptable period of time; however, keep in mind that when responding to these comments, the quicker the better!

Take the Conversation Offline

If the response requires an offline conversation, be sure to make that conversation private by offering your email address. Sharing your email promotes transparency and trust in your practice.

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