What Your Word Cloud Says About You


By April Jasper, OD, FAAO, and Katie Gilbert-Spear, OD, MPH, WO Professional Co-editors and Co-founders, Distinctive Strategies and Leadership

Here’s a simple and fun exercise to see what kind of impressions your practice is making on patients. It’ll only take a few minutes, but it will provide you with a great, visual representation. Create a Word document and copy and paste all online patient reviews your practice has received. You can limit it to the past six months or a shorter time period if you’re receiving a lot of these. Drop the reviewers’ names from this document.

Then go a site that creates word clouds. (Wordle.net is free and easy to use, but there are others.) Copy all the text from your combined reviews into the text box and push the button to create the word cloud. Words in a word cloud become larger as they’re used more often.

Share the resulting graphic with the staff and see what words pop. What’s the impression? If “negative” words like wait, slow, rude or limited show up large, that’s a problem. On the other hand, if positive words like beautiful, friendly, professional or caring show up large, you’re doing something very well.

We ran this word cloud for Advanced Eyecare Specialists [Dr. Jasper’s practice] recently. The results were not what we hoped. Can you see why? At first blush, there are lots of positive, large words. But what’s the biggest of all? JASPER. That means that in the patients’ eyes, the practice is all about the doctor. Patients should come in and have a wonderful experience whether they see the primary doctor or another doctor. In other words, your Wordle should reflect the patient experience more than your name.

In this case, the word cloud reinforced the assessment that patients have an excellent impression of the office. As great as it might be for the ego to have your name pop up large, the exercise shows that for a sustainable future of a practice, a doctor will want to shift some of the focus away from herself.

So see what your word cloud says about you. Print a large version to share at an office meeting. What’s making big impressions on patients? The word cloud is an amazing way to illustrate this, plus it’s fun. You can even consider running a new word cloud a month or so after some customer service initiative to see if patient perceptions and words have shifted in the way you hoped to see.