Multi-source, or 360-degree feedback programs have been used to help business leaders and executives build their skills and leadership for decades. Fundamentally, multi-source feedback involves receiving feedback from those around you to get a complete picture of your performance. This is compared to more traditional models of feedback where you receive feedback from only one person, typically a supervisor. When done correctly, multi-source feedback programs facilitate expanded self-awareness and an increased likelihood of change.1
The multi-source feedback model has been used for physicians and healthcare workers to varying levels of success. Along with aspects including how the results are presented and whether the development of an action plan is supported, how feedback is collected is critical to a successful multi-source feedback program. But, asking someone to complete a feedback survey can have its challenges. In a medical care context, and especially when requesting patient feedback, these challenges can feel more acute.
This article provides practical guidance on asking patients for feedback as part of a multi-source feedback program based on the Medical Council of Canada’s organizational experience administering the MCC 360 program to physicians across the country. Regardless of whether you see your patients once, or you see them on a recurring basis, this article offers strategies that can help you feel prepared, improve feedback quality, and increase your patients’ comfort with the ask.
One of the most common questions when participating a multi-source feedback program is how to address our natural tendency to request feedback from those who we feel are more likely to give us a positive review. A simple, but highly effective and practical strategy, to mitigate potential bias is to set yourself a timeframe to invite patients to provide feedback. During this period, any patient you see you would request they complete the feedback survey. This strategy can also help you collect the surveys quickly and effectively. When deciding your timeframe, consider:
Even with the timeframe strategy, it can be helpful to remind yourself of what you hope to achieve from the time investment you are making in the program if you find yourself hesitating to request feedback from a patient.
If you are unsure about how to ask patients for feedback, preparing a brief script to make sure you cover off the important points in your request can help. You can also consider having materials on hand that the patients can look through when you ask them to complete a feedback survey. There are a few talking points to consider including in your script:
Finally, be prepared for some patients to have questions or to say no. Have additional resources or contact information on hand so patients can learn more. If someone declines to provide feedback, be also prepared to express your understanding.
Although you have a script as a starting point, try to adapt your request to the context of your practice and the unique circumstances of each your patients. Here are few practical considerations you can take into account:
Consider leveraging additional communication channels, if available, to help increase awareness about the program to your patients before you even make the request and follow-up. There are a couple common communication channels you may be able to take advantage of:
MCC 360 was developed to provide physicians with meaningful and actionable feedback that leads to positive practice changes. In addition to a self-assessment, survey responses gathered from patients, physician colleagues, and non-physician co-workers ensure a 360-degree perspective. Qualitative, narrative comments and paired coaching time with a trained peer-physician complete the program and prompt an objective and constructive action plan. The program is recognized as a Health Standard Organization Leading Practice. It is also recognized by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and the College of Family Physicians of Canada for up to 15 Continued Professional Development (CPD) credits.
1 Zenger, J., & Folkman, J. (2020, December 23). What Makes a 360-Degree Review Successful? Harvard Business Review.